1. This is an appeal from the judgment of Raja-gopalan, J. in W. P. No. 467 of 1957 filed under Article 226 of the Constitution in the following circumstance. The appellants before us. Messrs. Swamy Motor Transport (Private) Ltd., held permits to ply buses 'on the route Tanjore to Kurnbakonam. They applied on 4th January, 1958 for a variation of the route to enable them to ran two of their buses, MDO 1081 and MDO 1100, from Tanjore to Koradacheri via Kumbakonarn and Kodavasal.
On receipt of this application the Regional Transport Authority published a notification under Section 57(3) of the Motor Vehicles Act. There were two other operators on the route Kumbakonam to Kodavasal, namely, Messrs. Raman and Raman and Sri Rama Vilas Service Ltd. Sri Rama Vilas Service sent a representation opposing the grant of variation. Raman and Raman allege that they also sent a representation, but that has not been traced.
It was pointed out that according to the procedure laid down by the Government, when an application for variation was received, there should first be a notification under Section 47 of the Act. The original notification under Section 57 (3) was therefore cancelled and a notification under Section 47 of the Act was published on the 14th March, 1956. Both Raman and Raman and Sri Rama Vilas Service sent in representations urging that there was no need for the extension and variation. On 21st . May, 1956 the Regional Transport Authority, Tanjore, resolved not to recommend the variation. The following is the resolution:
'Heard Parties. Koradacheri is connected by rail (23 miles) with Tanjore and by the proposed variation the distance will amount to 45 miles by bus. Further, existing facilities between Kuma-konarn and Kodavasal are quite adequate and the proposed variation is not the best method of providing traffic facilities between Koradacheri and Kodavasal in the public interest and hence variation not recommended.'
The Regional Transport Authority thereafter published on 31st May, 1956 a formal notification under Section 57 (3) regarding the application made by the appellants for the variation. Sri Rama Vilas Service made representation against the grant of the variation but Messrs. Raman and Raman he not appear to have filed afresh any such representation.
On 26th July 1956 the Regional Transport Authority after hearing tile appellants and the representations received from Sri Rama Vilas Service rejected the appellants' application as it considered that the grant of the variation and extension was not in the interests of the public. The order itself appears to have been communicated to the appellants on or about 10th August 1956. The appellants applied to the State Transport Appellate Authority for a revision of the order of the Regional Transport Authority.
Meanwhile, two members of the Madras Legislative Assembly addressed two letters to the Minister for Transport requesting the Minister to provide through facilities between Tanjore and Kora-dachari via Kumbakonam and Kodavasal as early as possible in the interests of the travelling public. There was no mention in these two letters of the application for the variation made by the appellants. The appellants themselves filed a petition to the Ministry for Transport praying that the Regional Transport Authority, Tanjore may be directed to extend the existing service performed by their buses Nos. MDO. 1081 and 1100 from Tanjore to Koradachari via Kumbakonam and Kodavasal.
It is sufficient to say at this stage that there was no reference in this petition to the application made by them to the Regional Transport Authority. The appellants' petition to the Government was dated 6th August 1956. This was after the Regional Transport Authority had passed the order rejecting the appellants' application though technically the order-had not been communicated to the appellants till four days later. The Government appear to have communicated a copy of the petition to the Deputy Transport Commissioner, State Transport Authority, Egmore, for report.
That officer after a full enquiry brought to the notice of the Government that the Regional Transport Authority, Tanjore had rejected the application made by the appellants and against its order the appellants had preferred a revision petition to the State Transport Appellate Tribunal, Madras, and the matter was sub judice. The officer did not make any positive recommendation but left it to the Government to decide whether any variation should be granted. Thereupon the Government passed an order on 16th November, 1956 (G. O. No. Ms. 3199} which runs as follows ;
'Representations have been made to Government that the public are put to great inconvenience for want of through travel facilities between Koradacheri and Kurnbakonam, that there is no bus service on the sector between Kodavasal and Koradacheri, a distance of about 7 miles, that if one wants to go to Koradacheri one has either to go to Tiruvarur and then come by bus to Koradacheri in a round about way or has to go to Nidamangalara, catch the train there and then go to Koradacheri. It has also been represented that there are five trains up and down on the route Tanjorc to Nagapattinam via Nidamangalam, Koradacheri and Tiruvaiur, that they are not sufficient to serve the aeeds of the public and that additional bus facilities are quite essential between Kurnbakonam, Tanjore and Koradacheri via Kodavasal, It was therefore suggested that the casting route Tanjore to Kurnbakonam may be varied as Tanjore to Koradacheri via Kumbakoriarn and Kodavasal. The Government have carefully examined the representations with-reference to the conditions specified in Section 47 of the Motor Vehicles Act and in consultation with the Transport Commissioner, Madras, have decided that present route Tanjore to Kumba-lonam should be varied as Tanjore Koradacheri via Kurnbakonam and Kodavasal in respect of two buses.
(2) In exercise of the powers conferred by Section 43-A(2) of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1939 (Central Act IV of 1939) the Government of Madras hereby direct the Regional Transport Authority, Tanjere to vary the existing route Tanjore to Kurnbakonam as Tanjore to Koradacheri via Kumbakonam and Kodavasal in respect of two buses.'
Haman and Raman filed a petition under Article 226 of the-Constitution (W. P. No. 18 of 1957) to issue a writ of mandamus directing the State of Madras and the Regional Transport Authority, Tanjore, to forbear from enforcing the above Government eider. That petition was disposed of by Rajagopalan, J, by his order, dated 2-4-1957. He dismissed the petition on the ground that no writ of mandamus could be issued to the State, because it had nothing further to do to give effect to the directions given in the said order and that no writ of mandamus could issue to the Regional Transport Authority in anticipation of a refusal by that authority to consider the objections preferred by the petitioner before him. Nevertheless the learned Judge examined at length the validity of the Government Order. His views may be briefly set out a3 they have a bearing on the contentions urged before us.
1. The Government in their above Order did not purport to grant expressly to the appellants herein- a variation for their two buses.
2; The Government exceeded their jurisdiction conferred on them by Section 43-A (2) when they purported to limit the use of a portion of the extended' route, Kumbakonam to Koradacheri, to two buses.
3. The failure of the Government to give an opportunity to Raman and Raman to make his representations vitiated the exercise of the jurisdiction which the Government had to extend the route upto Koradacheri, because it offended the principles of natural justice. The learned Judge commented on the fact that the appellants before us liad failed to disclose the pendency of the proceedings before the Regional Transport Authority with reference to the very two buses mentioned by them to the Government and that subsequently the Government were made aware of the proceedings by the Deputy Commissioner in his report. The Government were also made aware that there were objections to the proposal to extend the route from Kumbakonam to Koradacheri.
2. On I3th May 1957 the State Transport Appellate Tribunal passed an order on the revision petition filed by the appellants before us, setting aside the order of the Regional Transport Authority and directing the authority to grant the variation applied for by the appellants in respect of two buses, MDO. 1081 and 1100. It is to quash this order that the writ petition out of which this appeal arises was filed by Messrs. Raman and Raman (Private) Ltd.
3. As it is this order of the State Transport Appellate Tribunal which is the subject of controversy, we shall deal with it in some detail. The Appellate Tribunal after giving a brief history of the case at the outset referred to the two letters of two members of' the Legislature Assembly to 'the Government and to the petition by the appellants themselves. He then set out the gist of the order of the Government dated 16th November 1956 which has been extracted in full, earlier in this judgment. The Tribunal then referred to W. P, No. 18 of 1957 and to the dismissal of the said petition. He understood the High Court to have held therein that the 'Government had power to issue the said Government Order by virtue of Section 43-A (2) of the Act,'
He did not mention the other important expression of opinion of Rajagopalan, J, that the said order of the Government was contrary to principle of natural justice as it was passed without notice to Messrs. Raman and Raman. The Tribunal then went on to deal with the facts and circumstances bearing on the variation sought by the appellants. In his opinion, the variation applied for was the most simple and the best to meet the traffic needs of the travelling public of Kumbakonam or any other place between Kumbakonam and Kodavasal and between Papanasam and Kumbakonam to go to Koradacheri. He concluded thus :
'On a careful consideration of all the materials and contortions and the representations, I feel satisfied that the variation asked for by the petitioner is quite reasonable and is in the best interests of the travelling public particularly of the people residing on the sector Kodavasal and Koradacheri and between Kumbakonam and Kodavasal,'
Rajagopalan. J. allowed W. P. No. 467 of 1957 and set aside the order of the Appellate Tribunal dated 13-5-1957, on the sole ground that the Tribunal was in error when it took into account Government Order Ms. No. 3199 dated 16-11-1956 as one of the relevant factors to be considered and that vitiated its final decision.
A preliminary objection was raised before the learned judge, that die petitioners before him, namely, Messrs. Raman and Raman were not entitled to invoke the jurisdiction vested in this court by Article 226 of the Constitution inasmuch as they had failed to oppose the application of Swamy Transport, the appellants, at the proper Stage; but lie overruled the objection. He held that the petitioner was a person aggrieved by the order of the Tribunal which conferred a benefit on the appellants to his detriment. Bam an and Raman had been allowed to participate in die revision petition before the Tribunal and their objections were considered and rejected.
In such circumstances Raman and Raman must be deemed to have been a party to the proceedings before, the Tribunal and aggrieved by its order. After analysing the order of the State Transport Appellate Tribunal, the learned Judge came to the definite conclusion that the Tribunal did take the Government order above referred to as a relevant factor in determining the question in issue before it. As the Government order was an irrelevant factor and that was taken into consideration by the Tribunal, the exercise of the jurisdiction of the Tribunal was vitiated on that ground.
4. Messrs. Swami Motor Transport Limited have filed the above appeal against the order of Rajagopalan, J. The appeal originally came on before a Division Bench of this court consisting of Panchapakesa Ayyar, J. and Basheer Ahmed Sa-yeed, J. The learned Judges differed and delivered long and elaborate judgments in support of their respective views. Panchapakesa Ayyar, J-held that Rajagopalan, J.'s order should be confirmed.
The learned Judge further directed the State Transport Appellate Tribunal to dispose of the revision petition filed by Messrs. Swami Motor Transport Ltd. afresh. Basheer Ahmed Sayeed, J. disagreed with Rajagopalan, J. and held that the order 9 of the Appellate Tribunal was not vitiated by reference to the Government Order. It was a relevant factor to be taken into account. The Tribunal's order was not based on a misconstruction of the order in W. P. No. 18 of 1957. In his view the appeal should be allowed and Rajagopalan, J.'s order set aside.
On the question as to the legality and validity of the Government order, the learned Judges were not in agreement. According to Panchapakesa Aiyar, J. the Government order was not valid but Basheer Ahmed Sayeed, J. thought that it was perfectly valid. As the two learned Judges differed, -- the appeal was referred to a third learned Judge, Balakrishna Aiyar, J. After listening to learned counsel for some time, Balakrishna Aiyar, J. passed the following order: -
'At this stage I am inclined to take a view which does not completely coincide either with that of Panchapakesa Aiyar, J. or Basheer Ahmed Sayeed, J.
This means that it will not be possible to have a majority opinion in accordance with which Panchapakesa Aiyar, J. and Basheer Ahmed Sayeed, J. can dispose of the appeal. As required by Clause 36 of the Lettetrs Patent, the papers will be placed before the Hon'ble the Chief Justice so that if he thinks fit to do so, a Bench may be constituted whose opinion will enable the appeal to be finally disposed of.'
Hence the appeal conies for disposal before this Full Bench.
5. At the outset we shall dispose of a preliminary point raised on behalf of the appellants by the learned Solicitor-General, namely, that Raman and Raman who applied to this court for the issue of a writ of certiorari to quash the order of the State Transport Appellate Tribunal was not a person aggrieved by that order. The grounds on which this objection was based is that Raman and Raman had not made a representation opposing the variation which was notified under Section 57 (3) of the Motor Vehicles Act.
It must not, however, be overlooked that when the notification under Section 47 of the Act was published, a representation was filed by Raman and Raman on 30-3-1956. In effect, this was a representation against the application made by Swami Motor Transport Ltd., for variation. As mentioned above, there was first a notification under Section 57 which was cancelled, and then a notification under Section 47 and again a notification under Section 57.
Even assuming that technically it was necessary for. Raman and Raman to have made a representation at each stage with reference to each notification, there can be no doubt that substantially they did make a representation opposing the variation. This we think is the- most material circumstance in deciding whether Raman and Raman could invoke the jurisdiction of this Court under Article 226. In our opinion, Raman and Raman were certainly persons aggrieved by the order of the Appellate Tribunal sought to be quashed.
They had not only filed a representation, after, the notification under Section 47, they were even allowed to put forward their view before the State Transport Appellate Tribunal. The fact that they were heard by the Appellate Tribunal itself shows that they were treated as persons aggrieved. In discussing the question when an applicant for a writ of certiorari can be said to be a person aggrieved, the Earl of Reading, C. J., observed thus in Rex v. Richmond Confirming Authority; Ex parte, Howitt, 1921 1 KB 248 ;
'The applicant does not, in my opinion, stand in the same category as a member of the public who may be said to have only a general interest in seeing that the law is properly carried out. He had a particular interest in this subject-matter, and nothing can better show this than the fact that he incurred the expenses of instructing counsel to secure if he could the refusal of the confirmation, and to contend that the confirming authority had no jurisdiction. Bearing in mind that the applicant is a person who was entitled to appear and object as having this interest that he was carrying on business as the licensee of premises in Richmond, I think the case comes within the decision of Rex v. Groom; Ex parte, Cobbold, 1901 2 KB 157.'
6. The learned Chief Justice quoted the following from the judgment of Lord Alverstone, C. J., in that case:
'It is sufficient if they have a real interest] in the decision of the Justices, and they have in this case. They took the point now raised before the justices at the adjourned general annual licensing meeting and when the confirming order was made, and it would be too strong to say that they had not a sufficient interest in the matter to enable them to apply for the rule.'
The true principle is to determine whether the applicant has an interest distinct from the general inconvenience which may be suffered by the law being wrongly administered. Obviously Raman and Ram an had such an interest. It was Raman and Raman who had filed W. P. No. 18 of 1957, challenging the -validity of the Government Order. We overrule this objection.
7. The main question appears to us to lie within a very narrow compass, namely, whether the impugned order of the State Transport Appellate Tribunal is vitiated by any manifest error o Jaw. The learned Solicitor-General contended that the Tribunal was a quasi-judicial authority which was competent to decide whether or not an applicant should be granted a variation. That matter was solely within the Jurisdiction of the Transport Authority and the Appellate Tribunal as a Revisional Authority.
The Tribunal had on a consideration of all the circumstances decided that the variation was in the interests of the public. On that finding, it was proper to grant the variation. With reference to Government Order Ms. No. 3199 dated 16-11-1956, which the Tribunal mentioned in its order, the learned Solicitor-General's contention was twofold--(1) that even assuming that the Government order was bad, the order of the Tribunal cannot be quashed because the Tribunal's order is not based entirely on the Government Order. The Tribunal had not completely surrendered his Judicial functions to the Government Order as binding him to come to only one conclusion. It will be wrong to say that the Tribunal was even influenced by the Government Order, and (2) the Government Order itself is not bad or unlawful for any reason. The Government had not exceeded their powers under Section 43-A (2) of the Act in passing it.
8. The learned Attorney-General appearing for die contesting respondents, Messrs. Raman and Raman, contended that it. Is really unnecessary to decide for a disposal of this appeal whether 'the Government Order was invalid or unlawful. The Government order should not have been falcon into account by the Appellate Tribunal in deciding the question before him. The Appellate Tribunal must have been influenced by the Government Order. In any event one cannot be certain whether and how far he was actually so influenced. . The learned Attorney-General, however, was prepared to convince us that the Government Order was ultra vires and invalid.
9. The first question which falls for decision! is whether a consideration of the Government Order by the State Transport Appellate Tribunal was improper. We agree with Rajagopalan, J. that it was. The Tribunal was invested with appellate and revisional powers in respect of orders by the Regional Transport Authority. It was not a mere administrative or executive body. It should only' deal with what may be generally described as 'evidence on record' though it may be that the Tribunal is not governed strictly by the sections of, the Indian Evidence Act. The Government Order cannot be said to be a piece of evidence.
It embodied the decision of the Government as a statutory authority. It was passed without, hearing any one except on considering the peti-tions from the two members of the Legislative' Assembly and Messrs. Swami Motor Transport Ltd. It was the duty and function of the! Tribunal to come to a decision on the material on| record which had been placed before the Regional j Transport Authority. It had to examine the correctness of the order of the Regional Transport Authority, which was the subject-matter of the revision' petition before it. It is obvious from a reading, of the Tribunal's order that it attached importance, to the fact that the Government had taken a particular view of the very question which he had to, decide.
10. The learned Solicitor-General referred us to a passage in Ade Smith's Judicial Review of Administrative Action at pages 203-204 viz. :
'It is, of course, immaterial that an authority may have considered irrelevant matters in arriving at its decision if it has not allowed itself to be influenced by those matters.'
Rut for an entire statement of the law on the point the following further passage is also material :
'The influence of extraneous matters will be manifest if they have led the authority to make an order that it is invalid ex facie, or if the authority has set them out as reasons for its order, or lias otherwise admitted their influence. In other cases, the courts must determine whether their influence is to be inferred from the surrounding circumstances. If the influence of irrelevant factors is established, it does not appear to be necessary to prove that they were the sole or even the dominant influence; it seems to be enough to prove that their influence was substantial.'
11. Reliance was placed by the learned Attorney-General on the well established principle that when several reasons are given for coming to a particular conclusion, if some of the reasons are bad, the conclusion cannot stand. It is sufficient to refer to a judgment of this court in W. A. No. 35 of 1955 (Mad), to which one of us was a party. There we agreed with the principle as enunciated by Rajagopala Aiyangar, J. in the following terms:
'When more than one reason is given and when one of them which from the language of the order appears to be substantial and has been taken into consideration, it is impossible for the court to sustain the order on the ground that it was really the valid reason that effectively operated to bring about the decision and not the invalid one.'
We pointed out that this principle has the high authority of the Judicial Committee in Li Hong Mi v. Attorney-General of Hongkong, 1920 AC 735: (AIR 1920 PC 219). In the present case it cannot be said that the Appellate Tribunal has given the order of the Government as one of the reasons for arriving at his decision. The underlying basis of the principle however will apply. If among several matters taken into consideration there is a matter which is irrelevant or extraneous, and the Tribunal must have been influenced by such irrelevant or extraneous matter also, then the order must be quashed because it cannot be determined what the Tribunal would have held if such matter had been excluded.
12. We are also of opinion that Government Order Ms. No. 3199 dated 16th May, 1956 was itself not a valid and proper order. As we have seen above, 'that order wag passed on two petitions from two members of the Madras Legislative assembly and a petition from Swami Motor Transport Ltd. Having regard to the prayer in the petition of Swami Motor Transport Ltd., namely, that the Government may be pleased to direct the Regional Transport Authority, Tanjore, for extending the existing service performed by buses Nos. MDO. 1081 and 1100 between Tanjore Kumbakonam to Koradacheri via Kodavasal, we are of the opinion that the Government were virtually directing the Regional Transport Authority to grant the variation prayed for by Swami Motor Transport. It is true that the Government Order does not mention Swami Motor Transport, nor does ill mention the numbers of the two buses. The order purports to be under Section 43-A (2) of the Motor Vehicles Act. That provision is as follows :
'The State Government may, on a consideration of the matters set forth in sub-section (I) of Section 47, direct any Regional Transport Authority or the State Transport Authority to open any new route or to extend an existing route or to permit additional stage carriages to be put, or to reduce the number' of Stage carriages, on any specified route.'
Though it cannot be said that the order of the Government is not in accordance with this provision, in the circumstances we think that the power under this provision has been used to compel a quasi-judicial tribunal like the Regional Transport Authority to dispose of a case in a particular way. What the Government has done is to quote the words of the Supreme Court in Raman and Raman v. State of Madras, : AIR1959SC694 . 'to couch the order in a general way to induce n tribunal to come to a particular decision in a given case . . . .'
13. We cannot refrain from ex-pressing our surprise at the complete suppression by Swami Motor Transport of- their having applied to the Regional Transport Authority for the same variation which they sought from the Government Actually by the dale of their petition the Regional Transport Authority had pawed an order rejecting their application. It was said that (be order was communicated only on 10th August, 1956, implying that Swami Motor Transport were not aware of the rejection of their application by the Regional Transport Authority. If this be so, they were guilty of a very high impropriety. When their application has been heard by and was pending the decision of the Regional Transport Authority, they approached the Government to influence the Regional Transport Authority to decide their case in their favour. The order passed by the Government in such circumstances cannot be held to be valid.
14. During the course of the argument it was brought to our notice that the Deputy Transport Commissioner had referred in his report to the rejection of the application of Swami Motor Transport by the Regional Transport Authority and the revision petition filed by them to the State Trans-port Appellate Tribunal. The Deputy Transport Commissioner used the words 'sub judice' to describe the stage of affairs.
The Government were therefore presumably aware that a competent authority had rejected the application of Swami Motor Transport and a revision petition was pending before a statutory tribunal. Without making any reference to these material matters, what in effect the Government purported to do was to forestall any decision by the Appellate Tribunal adverse to Swami Motor Transport. This is another ground on which we arc prepared1 to hold that the Government order was not valid.
15. There is the further reason which was dealt with by Rajagopalan, J. in W. P. No. 18 of '1957, namely, that the order was passed without' giving an opportunity to Raman and Raman to make their representation.
16. Though for these reasons we hold that Government Order Ms. No. 3199 dated 16-11-I95R wag not valid, we desire to express our dissent; from the view of Rajagopalan, J. that Government have no power under Section 43-A (2) to specify the number of buses to ply on a new route or an existing route as extended by them. They can on a consideration of relevant circumstances indicate to the transport authorities that on a particular route a specified number of stage carriages would be adequate to meet the needs of the- travelling public. This however does not affect the decision I of this appeal.
17. It follows that the State Transport Appellate Tribunal not only took into account an irrelevant and extraneous matter in coming to a decision, he took into account something which was neither legal nor valid. The order of the Appeal, late Tribunal is therefore vitiated by a manifest error of law and it was rightly quashed by Rajagopalan, J.
18. Rajagopalan, J. did not expressly say what should happen after the order had been quashed. But Panchapakesa Ayyar, J, directed the State Transport Appellate Tribunal to dispose of the revision petition of Swami Motor Transport afresh after hearing the interested parties including-Messrs. Raman and Raman. We agree that this is the proper course. The appeal is dismissed, but with a direction to the above effect. There will be no order as to costs.