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R.A. Natarajan Vs. the Regional Transport Officer and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectMotor Vehicles
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Reported in(1956)2MLJ347
AppellantR.A. Natarajan
RespondentThe Regional Transport Officer and anr.
Cases ReferredBucha Lal v. Rex A.I.R.
Excerpt:
- - this explanation, however, was not accepted and the regional transport officer directed the suspension of the permit for a period of one month by his order, dated 21st october, 1954. there was an appeal by the petitioner to the central road traffic board and when this failed, to the government in revision. the allahabad high court held that on the language of section 72(2)(3) mens rea was a necessary ingredient of the offence and that as in the case before it, that has not been established, the conviction was bad......was plying on this route. while so on 12th january, 1954, early in the morning a sub-inspector of motor vehicles taxes stopped the vehicle and made a check of the number of passengers seated in the bus. the bus was permitted to carry a total of 34 passengers but on checking the bus, the sub-inspector found that there were 44 passengers. he transmitted this information to the regional transport authority, vellore and the secretary of the transport authority namely. the regional transport officer issued a notice to the petitioner on 5th february, 1954, charging him with overloading and intimating to him that if the charges were not satisfactorily explained, the permit would be cancelled. the petitioner submitted an explanation denying the overloading. this explanation, however, was not.....
Judgment:
ORDER

Rajagopala Ayyangar, J.

1. The petitioner in this case is a transport operator. He held a stage carriage permit on the route Arni-Vellore. His bus MDU 3065 was plying on this route. While so on 12th January, 1954, early in the morning a Sub-Inspector of Motor Vehicles Taxes stopped the vehicle and made a check of the number of passengers seated in the bus. The bus was permitted to carry a total of 34 passengers but on checking the bus, the Sub-Inspector found that there were 44 passengers. He transmitted this information to the Regional Transport Authority, Vellore and the Secretary of the Transport Authority namely. The Regional Transport Officer issued a notice to the petitioner on 5th February, 1954, charging him with overloading and intimating to him that if the charges were not satisfactorily explained, the permit would be cancelled. The petitioner submitted an explanation denying the overloading. This explanation, however, was not accepted and the Regional Transport Officer directed the suspension of the permit for a period of one month by his order, dated 21st October, 1954. There was an appeal by the petitioner to the Central Road Traffic Board and when this failed, to the Government in revision. This also was dismissed.

2. It is in these circumstances that the petitioner has moved this Court for the issue of a writ of certiorari to quash the order directing the suspension of the petitioner's permit.

3. Two points were urged by the learned Counsel for the petitioner. The first was that under Rule 291, a Sub-Inspector of Motor Vehicles Taxes was not an authority named who had a right to stop a vehicle and check the number of passengers in it so as to determine whether it was overloaded or not. He said that as in the present case it was a Sub Inspector that had conducted the checking the subsequent proceedings were vitiated. I do not see any substance in this point. The authority to cancel the permit is the Regional Transport Officer. The manner in which this body gets information does not touch upon its jurisdiction to deal with a contravention of the conditions of the permit when this has been proved to its satisfaction. It may be that the petitioner or his conductor was not bound to stop the vehicle or to permit the inspection by the Motor Vehicles Inspector but that has nothing to do with the jurisdiction of the Regional Transport Officer or the validity of the subsequent proceedings in regard to the cancellation or suspension of the petitioner's permit as this depends on the establishment to the satisfaction of the authority that the condition of a permit have been contravened.

4. The second point that was urged was that as the conductor was in charge of the vehicle and as it was not proved that the petitioner had any mens rea in permitting the overloading, the cancellation of the permit should not have been ordered. Learned Counsel in this connection relied on a decision of Allahabad High Court reported in Bucha Lal v. Rex A.I.R. 1949 All. 11. The learned Judge there was concerned with the question whether an offence under Section 72 of the Motor Vehicles Act had been committed by an owner who had put on the vehicle a driver who had misbehaved. The Allahabad High Court held that on the language of Section 72(2)(3) mens rea was a necessary ingredient of the offence and that as in the case before it, that has not been established, the conviction was bad. But the present case stands on an entirely different footing. Section 60 of the Motor Vehicles Act enables the transport authorities to cancel a permit on the breach of any condition contained in the permit to quote only the material words of Section 60(1)(a). When one turns to the permit condition relevent to the present context which is condition No. 5 it runs in these terms: 'The Vehicle shall not carry more than - passengers including the driver and the conductor.' There is thus an absolute prohibition and it is not conditioned by any particular person having knowledge of this contravention. Mens rea is therefore not imported into this rule and it does not matter for the purpose of deciding whether condition No.5 has been contravened or not, whether it was the driver or the conductor who was responsible for the overloading or the owner himself. In each of these contingencies the vehicle would have been overloaded in contravention of condition No. 5 so as to attract the penalty prescribed by Section 60(1)(a) of the Motor Vehicles Act.

5. The order of suspension was, therefore, within the jurisdiction of the transport authorities. The writ petition fails and is dismissed. There will, however, be no' order as to costs.


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