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The Rajasthan State Road Transport Corporation Vs. the State Transport Appellate Tribunal and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectMotor vehicle
CourtRajasthan High Court
Decided On
Case NumberD.B. Civil Special Appeal No. 185/1981 and 5 others
Judge
Reported in1983WLN(UC)184
AppellantThe Rajasthan State Road Transport Corporation
RespondentThe State Transport Appellate Tribunal and ors.
DispositionAppeal allowed
Cases ReferredUsman Gani v. S.T.A.T.
Excerpt:
.....- in view of the above, i am of the opinion that though in a given case, the corporation can be allowed to have monopoly if it has got proper facilities to provide good service to people, but merely by tasting the bogey of social control and / or preferential claim of the corporation, it cannot displace and oust the private bus operators on unnationalised routes. since i have found that the criticism of the tribunal against the corporation is justified and in that context permitting the private bus operators to have competition with the corporation on these routes would result in providing better facilities to the traveling public, i am of the opinion that the judgment of the tribunal is justified both, on facts and in law. , interest of the public generally and clauses (b) to (f) are..........the corporation filed writ petitions against a composite order dated september 10, 1980 of the state transport appelate tribunal, rajasthan, jaipur (here in after referred to be as 'the stat' ) , by which the resolution annexure- 3 dated july 29, 1980 of the regional transport authority, bikaner (r.t.a ) granting permits to the corporation and refusing renewal to the contesting respondents (bus-operators) who were existing permit holders was reversed. by resolution annexure dated july 29, 1980, r.t.a. considered the comparative merits of the twelve permits holders including the contesting respondents (bus-operators) vis a-vis that of the corporation in the matter of granting further renewal of the twelve permit holders or in their place to grant fresh permits to the corporation.....
Judgment:

S.K. Mal Lodha, J.

1. These six appeals under Section 18 of the Rajasthan High Court Ordinance, 1959 are directed against the order dated April 14, 1981 of the learned single Judge by which he dismissed six writ petitions.

2. As these appeals were heard together and common questions are involved, we consider it proper to dispose them of by a common judgment.

3. The facts leading to filing of these writ petitions by the Rajasthan State Road Transport Corporation, Jaipur (for short 'the Corporation') have been stated in detail in the judgment rendered in Bharat Transport Cooperative Society Ltd v. State of Rajasthan and Other, (D.B. Civil Special Appeal No. 74 of 1981) and three other special appeals, in which the Corporation is respondent No. 4. These appeals were heard alongwith the aforesaid appeals. Suffice it to state that the Corporation filed writ petitions against a composite order dated September 10, 1980 of the State Transport Appelate Tribunal, Rajasthan, Jaipur (here in after referred to be as 'the STAT' ) , by which the Resolution Annexure- 3 dated July 29, 1980 of the Regional Transport Authority, Bikaner (R.T.A ) granting permits to the Corporation and refusing renewal to the contesting respondents (bus-operators) who were existing permit holders was reversed. By resolution Annexure dated July 29, 1980, R.T.A. considered the comparative merits of the twelve permits holders including the contesting respondents (bus-operators) vis a-vis that of the Corporation in the matter of granting further renewal of the twelve permit holders or in their place to grant fresh permits to the Corporation against the remaining twelve unfilled vacancies in which the permit holders wen allowed renewal of their perm is for the period from November 19 1978 to November 18, 1976 under the orders of this Court. The R.T.A. alse considered the comparative merits of the two fresh applicants viz, Jagir Singh and Mani Ram. By its order dated July 3, 1979, the R.T.A. rejected all the twelve renewal applications of the permit-holders including the contesting respondents and also two applications filed by Jagirsingh and Maniram and instead allowed twelve more permits to the Corporation. The contesting respondents and other permit holders filed twelve appeals before the STAT The STAT, amongst others, allowed six appeals and observed as follows:

The vehicles of the other six appellants are of 1970 or 71 Models except that of Kundanlal Shiv Shanker, which is of 1968 model.

This vehicle is not below prescribed model for purpose of renewal. These six vehicles are lower in model than the vehicle of the Corporation, which are 1980 models, but when the route of Haunman-garh-Abhore is not a rationalised route, then in order to make the Corp ration ply efficient services, they require some sort of competition, which can provide some sort of competition, which can be provided by private operate . There is a scope of 24 permits on this route and if private operator are allowed to ply six vehicles alongwith the 18 permits of the Corporation then the public would benefit as the healthy competition would result in the efficient services without any set back to the service of the Corporation. Recently, the RSRTC has come in for severe criticism from different quarters on account of its inefficient services and considering this factor, it cannot be allowed to have a monopoly of services on this nonnat onalised route merely because the Corporation has higher model vehicles.

The Corporation filed six writ petitions as aforesaid questioning the correctness of the part of the order Annexure--4 dated September 10, 1980 of the STAT.

4. The learned single Judge by his order dated April 14,1981 dismissel the writ petitions. It will be useful here to refer the following findings of the learned single Judge:

In view of the above, it cannot be said that this finding of the Tribunal was based on absence of evidence or extraneous consideration, warranting interference under Article 226 of the Constitution' in the Corporation can afford to have big fleet of vehicles, by which they can provide sufficient services on all routes then transport authorities should not have any difficulty in giving preference to the Corporation, even on routes which are not nationalised. How ever, as the present state of affairs exist, it is obvious that the criticism of the Corporation made in several judgments of the Transport Authorities is justified. It lacks resources and still it volunteers to oust the private operators on routes, which are not natioalised, by making a tall offer of putting 1980 models. The jugglery of showing a list of vehicles which the Corporation had got, by using it on all and sundry routes, cannot be allowed to oust the private bus operators, who are providing genuine and reasonable facilities. If the Corporation wants to oust all private bus operators on routes, which are not nationalised, why should there be delay in nationalising these routes also? Conversely, if the Corporation cannot nationalise them and further cannot afford a' big fleet of vehicles, it is difficult to appreciate why it should be over jealous (?) and enthusiastic to monopolise all the routes? After all the 'Bus service' is meant for public convenience and not for operators of Corporation.

In view of the above, I am of the opinion that though in a given case, the Corporation can be allowed to have monopoly if it has got proper facilities to provide good service to people, but merely by tasting the bogey of social control and / or preferential claim of the Corporation, it cannot displace and oust the private bus operators on unnationalised routes.

Since I have found that the criticism of the Tribunal against the Corporation is justified and in that context permitting the private bus operators to have competition with the Corporation on these routes would result in providing better facilities to the traveling public, I am of the opinion that the judgment of the Tribunal is justified both, on facts and in law.

It may be mentioned that the learned Judge in our opinion was right whan he observed that in view of Section 47(1-H) of the Act, Corporation is entitled to preference on the fulfillment of the conditions mentioned in the proviso appended there to. The learned single Judge was also right in holding that the Corporation can be allowed to have monopoly. earned Counsel for the bus operators aced reliance on Kondala Roa v. An Pra, S. R. T . Corporation : [1961]1SCR642 and Sri Ram Vilas v. Chandrashekharan : [1964]5SCR869

In Kondala Rao's AIR 1961 SC 82, it was observed as follows:

I here can be no legal objection to a phased programme in the nationalization of transport services in a State or a district or to the framing of more than one scheme for a district, where the Govt. make it clear that each scheme would be implemented in its entirity commencing from different dates.

6. It was held in Shri Ram Vilas's case : [1964]5SCR869 that granting of monopoly to ous operators would be prejudicial to the public interest and is relevant consideration for denying a permit. We may at once say that the considerations which apply to a private bus operator who happens to be a monopolist are not applicable to the Corporation. The Act was amended by the Motor Vehicles (Rajasthan Amendment) Act (Rajasthan Act No. X of 1974) whereby the following proviso has been added to Sub-section (2) of Section 58 of the Act:

Provided further that other conditions being equal, an application for a stage carriage permit by a State Transport Undertaking as defined in Section 68A, shall be given preference over applications from individual owners and co-operative societies.

The Corporation was constituted under the Road Transport Corporation Act, 1950. Section 18 thereof reads as under:

18. General Duty of Corporation-- It shall be the general duty of a Corporation so to exercise its powers as progressively to provde or secure or promote the provisions of an efficient, adequate, economical and properly co-ordinated system of road transport services in the State or part of the State for which it is established and any extended area:

Provided that nothing in this section shall be construed as imposing on a Corporation, either directly or indirectly, any form of duty or liability enforceable by proceedings before any Court or Tribunal to which it would not otherwise subject.

We agree with the view taken in M/s. Zamidara Transport Cooperative Society Ltd., Sri Ganganagar and Anr. v. The State Transport Appellate Tribunal, Rajasthan and Ors. 1979 WLN (UC) 60 wherein it was held that in the matter of grant of non-temporary permits, the Corporation shall be entitled to be given preference over other applicants. The provisions of Section 47(1-H) of the Act have also to be kept in view.

7. The learned single Judge took into consideration the judgments of the STAT rendered in appeals (Bhagachand v. R.T.A. and Ors. decided on Septemher 5, 1980). He also noticed Latif Mohd. and 23 others v. S.T.A.T. and Ors. S.B. Civil Writ Petition No. 350 of 1980, decided on July 18,1980) for maintaining the impugned order of the STAT and dismissing the writ petitions.

8. It was held by us in Bharat Transport Ltd. v. State of Rajasthan and Ors. (D.B. Civil Special Appeal No. 74 of 1981 decided on July 5, 1983) and three other special appeals as under:

Having regard to the language used in the proviso and its functions it is clear to our mind that though under Section 47(1-H) of the Act, preference is to be given to an application of the State Transport Undertaking over all other applications nonetheless, it is for the Corporation to satisfy the authority which is to grant permit under Section 7(1-H) that it would be able to operate without detriment to its responsibility for providing sufficient and adequate road transport service in any notified area or notified route as it referred to in Sub-section (3) of Section 68D. The burden in the regard is on the Corporation.

We have quashed the aforesaid orders dated September 5, 1980 the STAT in the Rajasthan State Road Transport Corporation, Jaipur v. The Transport Appellate Tribunal, Rajasthan and Ors.. (D.B. Civil Special Appeal No. 190 of 1981, decided on July 5, 1983. Latif Mohd's case (supra) is also subject-matter of special appeal. On the basis of these judgments alone, the Corporation cannot be refused permits. The grant of permits will have to be examined in accordance with the provisions contained in chapter IV of the Act.

9. In Ajanta Transport (P) Ltd. v. TVK Transport Pulampatti : [1975]2SCR166 , it was laid down (1) that the power to grant permit under Section 47 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1939 is limited to the purpose specified in Clauses (a) to (f) of Section 47(1) for which it is meant to be exercised, that Clause (a) gives the dominant purpose viz., interest of the public generally and Clauses (b) to (f) are only its sub-categories or illustrations and that if any matter taken into considerations is not shown to be co-related to the dominant purpose or the relationship or the effect of a particular fact, which has operated in favour of a grant in such as to show that it is opposed on the face of it, to public interest, the grant will be bad. It was further held that relevancy or otherwise of one or more ground of grant or refusal of a stage carrige permit could be a jurisdictional matter and that a grant or its refusal on totally irrelevant grounds would be ultra vires or a case of excess of power.

10. It was held in Usman Gani v. S.T.A.T. 1981 WLN (UC) 174 that when there are number of considerations and it is found that one irrelevant factor was considered while deciding the question of granting permit, the order is vitiated because the irrelevant circumstances or factors may have influenced the mind of the Authority. It appears that while examining the correctness of the impugned order of the STAT, the learned single Judge has relied on the aforsaid three judgments in which criticism has been levelled against the Corporation. Apart from the fact that the evidence relied on is inadmissible, no opportunity seems to have been given to the Corporation on whom the burden say to satisfy the authority who is to giant permit under Section 47(1-H) of the Act that it would be a le to operate without detriment to its responsibility for providing efficient and adequate road transport services in any notified area or notified route as is referred to in Sub-section (3) of Section 68-D. The Corporation is entitled to preference under Section 47(1--H) and to satisfy the authority who is to grant permit by placing documents or other material on the basis on which the satisfaction can be arrived at. It was submitted on behalf of the Corporation that it has offered ready vehicles of 1980 model and that vehicles of the respondent bus-operators were of 1968, 1970 or the 1971 model and because of the later model which is one of the relevant considerations, its permits should not have been cancelled. The sum and substance of the argument raised on behalf of the Corporation is that the learned single Judge as not justified in maintaining the order dated September 10, 1980 of the STAT as he has taken into consideration inadmissible evidence against the Corporation. It was submitted that it did not afford opportunity to it (Corporation) to satisfy the authority as required by the proviso to Section 47(1-H) of the Act and that as the matters other than relevant considerations mentioned in Section 47(1-H) of the Act have been availed of, the impugned order of the STAT cannot be sustained and so also the order of the learned single Judge refusing to quash that part of the order by which the STAT had allowed the lerewal of the permits to the respondent-bus-operators. The aforesaid part of the order of the STAT in our opinion, has resulted in miscarriage of justice and therefore t has to be set aside.

11. We, therefore, allow these six appeals against the order dated April 14, 1981 of the learned single Judge and quash the order anncxure-4 dated September 10, 1980 of the STAT in so far as it relates to cancellation of the permits of the Corporation and ordering renewal of the permits in favour of the respondents-bus-operators. We direct the STAT to reconsider comparative merits of the respondents-bus operators and the validity of the Resolution dated July 29, 1980 of the R.T.A. granting permits to the Corporation in the light of the relevant provisions of the Act and the Rules and the observations made here in above after readmitting the appeals to their original numbers. It will affor an opportunity of beir heard to the parties and decide the appeals file by the respondents bus-operators afre in accordance with law.

12. In the circumstances of the case, the parties are left to earn them own costs of these appeals.


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