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Western Rly., Bombay and ors. Vs. Railway Rates Tribunal, Madras and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCivil
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Case NumberWrit Petn. Nos. 81 and 222 of 1954
Judge
Reported inAIR1955Mad513; (1956)IMLJ417
ActsRailway Act, 1890 - Sections 41, 41(1), 42, 42(2) and 46; Goods Tariff Rules - Rule 82(2); Code of Civil Procedure (CPC) , 1908
AppellantWestern Rly., Bombay and ors.
RespondentRailway Rates Tribunal, Madras and ors.
Appellant AdvocateT.M. Krishnaswami Aiyer and ;C. Govindaraja Aiyangar, Advs. in W.P. No. 81/54, ;C.R. Krishna Rao and ;R. Subramaniam, Advs. in W.P. No. 222/54
Respondent AdvocateT.M. Krishnaswami Aiyer and ;C. Govindaraja Aiyangar, Advs. in W.P. No. 222/54, ;C.R. Krishna Rao and ;R. Subramaniam, Advs. in W.P. No. 81/54
DispositionPetition dismissed
Cases ReferredLondon and North Eastern Ry. Co. v. Berriman
Excerpt:
indian railways act (ix of 1890), sections 41(1)(b), (c), 42(2)(b), 46(c), (f)--goods tariff rules, rules 82(2)(ii), 63--reasonableness of charges--jurisdiction of tribunal.; the intention of the framers of the indian railways act was not to exclude altogether from the jurisdiction of the railway rates tribunal all disputes relating to the reasonableness of every component of a standardized rate or charge. there can be no doubt as regards the powers of the tribunal to determine the reasonableness of these rates, for they are specifically enumerated in section 41(1)(b).; where complaints by certain mills against certain railway administrations comprised a wide field, but only two questions remained for consideration (i) whether excessive charges were levied for the transport of raw.....1. these two writ petitions are directed against the legality of the decision of the railway hates tribunal, madras, in complaint no. 7 of 1952. the railway administrations against whom the complaint was filed, have filed w. p. no. 81 of 1954, while the other is by the complainants before the tribunal. both the petitions raise for consideration the proper construction of section 41, indian railways act and the jurisdiction of the tribunal under that provision.2. the complainants before the railway rates tribunal were the indian paper mills association, calcutta, which represented the arvind boards and paper products ltd, billimora, surat, bombay, meerut strawboard mills - in uttar pradesh and straw products ltd., bhopal, while the respondents were three railway administrations, namely,.....
Judgment:
1. These two writ petitions are directed against the legality of the decision of the Railway Hates Tribunal, Madras, in complaint No. 7 of 1952. The railway administrations against whom the complaint was filed, have filed W. P. No. 81 of 1954, while the other is by the complainants before the Tribunal. Both the petitions raise for consideration the proper construction of Section 41, Indian Railways Act and the jurisdiction of the Tribunal under that provision.

2. The complainants before the Railway Rates Tribunal were the Indian Paper Mills Association, Calcutta, which represented the Arvind Boards and Paper Products Ltd, Billimora, Surat, Bombay, Meerut Strawboard Mills - in Uttar Pradesh and Straw Products Ltd., Bhopal, while the respondents were three railway administrations, namely, the Western Railway, Bombay, the Central Railway, Bombay and the Northern Railway, New Delhi. The complaint covered a wide field but the only material points which now remain for consideration are two (1) a complaint of excessive charges for the transport of raw materials to the mills and (2) a similar complaint in relation to strawboards proceeding from the mills.

3. These might be dealt within that order. The most important raw material required for the manu- facture of strawboard by the complainant-mills is of course "dry grass" and straw. These raw materials were carried at very favourable rates beiore 1-10-48 when a new tariff was introduced and these advantageous rates were withdrawn. In regard to these products, there was some relief afforded after the complaint in the shape of a wagon load scale but the complainants' grievance was that this advantage of the wagon load scale was offset by three conditions which were imposed upon those availing themselves of this favourable rate. The first was a minimum distance charge of 20 miles, (2) an additional charge of 6 pies per maund if the distance covered was less than 75 miles and (3) a minimum charge per wagon of Rs. 1-12-0 per ton or part thereof calculated on the marked carrying capacity of the wagon.

As the strawboard mills obtain their raw materials from within a short distance of their factories, all the three heads of minimum charges operate in their case and this was complained of as an unreasonable levy. This was the complaint in regard to the transport of raw materials to the factories. As regards the transport of finished products--strawboard--from the mills, the complaint was this. Before 1-10-1948 strawboard was classified under class I so that the lowest class-rate of tariff was applicable to it. Besides there used to be a number of station-to-station rates which the mills could take advantage of. All these were gradually abolished and after 1-10-1948 "strawboard" was classified under Clause 2 of the standard telescopic classification without any wagon load scale, so that the same class rate applied to both smalls as well as wagon loads.

The complainant-mills stated that they were regu-larly despatching traffic in wagon loads and that to require them to pay tor wagon loads at the same rate as for small was the imposition or a levy of an unreasonable charge against them.

4. These were the two matters which were the subject-matter of enquiry and decision by the Tribunal.

5. The Railway administration denied the jurisdiction of the Tribunal, to grant relief to the complainant in respect of any of the grounds of the complaint. Their contention was that the reliefs claimed did not fall within any of the Sub-clauses of Section 41(1) and that, on the other hand, the Central Government alone had the power to grant the reliefs under Section 42(2)(a) or under Section 29(2), Indian Railways Act. In regard to the charges levied on the commodities transported to the mills the Tribunal found that the minimum distance charge as well as the excess charge of 6 pies in the rupee for distances within 75 miles were reasonable and the complaint was rejected on the merits. These do not form the subject-matter of the writ petitions and might be dismissed out of consideration.

The only other point that remained on this part of the complaint related to the minimum wagon load charge of Rs. 1-12-0 per ton or fraction of a ton. In regard to this, the Tribunal by a majority held that it was within their jurisdiction to grant to the complainant relief under Section 41(l)(b) and (c), Indian Railways Act it they were satisfied that the charges were unreasonable. On a consideration of the materials placed before them, the Tribunal reached the finding that this charge was unreasonable and granted to the complainant relief arising out of their finding. We shall have occasion subsequently to refer to the exact form of the relief to which the complainant would be entitled, on this finding by the Tribunal.

But it is sufficient to state here that the Tribunal directed that the complainants should be exempted from the operation of this rule relating to the minimum wagon load charge. It is as against this portion of the decision of the Tribunal that the Railway Administrations have filed W. P. No. 81 of 1954 and the contention raised is that, on a proper construction of Section 41, Indian Railways Act, the railway Hates Tribunal bad no jurisdiction to determine the reasonableness of the minimum wagon, load charge.

6. The other W. P. No. 222 of 1954 relates to the complaint regarding the conduct of the Railway Administrations in charging for transport of straw-boards proceeding out oi the mills the same rate for wagon loads as are charged for smalls. The Tribunal unanimously held that they had no jurisdiction to afford any relief to the complainants and rejected their claim on this footing. The complainants in the writ petition challenged the correctness of this construction of Section 41, Indian Railways Act and contend that the Tribunal had the necessary jurisdiction which they had declined on an erroneous construction of the relevant statutory provisions.

7. It will be convenient to deal with the two petitions separately starting with W. P. No. 81 of 195-1. Before dealing with the proper construction of Section 41, Section 42 and other provisions of the Railways Act we may mention that it was very properly accepted by learned counsel appearing for the Railway administrations that it we agreed with the Tribunal that it had jurisdiction to determine the unreasonableness of the charge they would not challenge the finding of the Tribunal regarding the minimum wagon load rate being unreasonable since this was a finding of fact to reach which, there was material before the Tribunal. We are concerned therefore only with the question whether the Tribunal had jurisdiction to adjudicate on this matter. This turns upon the proper construction of 41 Railways Act. The other relevant sections of the Act are as follows:

"29(1): The Central Government may by general or special order fix maximum and minimum rates for the whole or any part of a railway, other than a minor railway, and prescribe the conditions in which such rates will apply.

(2) Any complaint that a railway administration is contravening any order issued by the Central Government in accordance with the provisions of this section shall be determined by the Central Government.

32. The general controlling authority may, by genera! or special order, fix the rates of terminal and other charges for the whole or any part of a railway, and prescribe the conditions in which such rates will apply. .

41(1): Any complaint that a railway administration

(a) .....

(b) is charging station to station rates or wagon load rates which arc unreasonable or rates which are unreasonable owing to any condition attached to them regarding minimum weight, packing, assumption of risk or any other matter, or

(c) is levying charges (other than standardised terminal charges) which are unreasonable, or

(d) is unreasonably refusing to quote a new station to station rate, or

(e) has unreasonably placed a commodity in a higher class,

may be made to the tribunal, and the Tribunal shall hoar and decide any such complaint in accordance with the provisions of this chapter.

41(3). In the case of a complaint under Clause (d) of Sub-section (1), the tribunal may fix a new station to station rate.

There is one other provision to which it is necessary to refer as that forms the main argument of learned counsel for the railway administration which is contained in Section 42 and runs in these terms:

"42(1): The tribunal alone shall have power to reclassity any commodity in a higher class, but such power shall not be exercised except on the application of the Central Government.

(2) The Central Government alone shall have power

(a) to increase or reduce the level of class rates, schedule rates and terminal and other charges; (b) to classify any commodity which has not been classified before.

(3) The Tribunal as well as the Central Government shall have power to reclassify any commodity in a lower class."

The relevant rule in the General Rules is Rule 82(2) (sic) which is as follows::

"82. Minimum distance and charge--

82. (2):

(i) .....

(ii) The minimum charge per wagon inclusive of all charges will be Rs. 1-12-0 per ton or part of a ton on the marked carrying capacity or such higher or lower carrying capacity as may be the notified basis of charge from time to time of each wagon used at the following station."

8. The argument of Mr. Krishnaswami Aiyar learned counsel for the Railways is this: What the complainants really seek in this case is a reduction in the level of class rates, schedule rates or other charges which fall within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Central Government under Section 42(2), Railways Act, In the exercise of the powers conferred on them by Sections 29 and 52 the Central Government have fixed the maximum and the minimum rates and the conditions in which such rates will apply. It is by virtue of this power that the standard telescopic class rates, which are to be found in Rule 63(4) of the Goods Tariff General Rules, have been framed. Both the minimum weight, and the minimum distance and charge, prescribed by Rules 81 and 82 are conditions attaching to the maximal and minimal rales fixed by the Central Government.

These are standardised rates and it is the Central Government alone that have the power to increase or reduce these rates. In other words, the argument is that the minimum wagon load rate enters into the texture of and becomes integrated with, the rates fixed by the Central Government by Section 29 and that consequently the complainants, if they are aggrieved by these rates being too high, should approach the Central Government for relief and that resort to the tribunal is not permissible.

Before discussing the correctness of this argument, we might refer to the grounds upon which the President Mr. Lokur, for the majority upheld the contention of the complainants. His first line of reasoning was that this charge was one which was comprehended within Section 41(1)(b) of the Act. His reasoning might be set out in his own words:

"The minimum charge fixed by Rule 82(2) stands on a different footing. It is not a charge fixed under Section 32, but a condition prescribed in the same way as a weight condition. If the weight condition is not fullilled, the wagon load scale will not apply. ....If that condition is found to be unreasonable, a complaint can be made to this tribunal under Section 41 (1)(b).....the expression "any other matter" in this section' is very wide..... Assuming however, that on the principle of 'cjusdem generis', the condition about which a complaint can be made must be of the same kind as those specified, in my opinion the minimum charge condition is akin to the minimum weight condition and is therefore included in the expression 'any other matter'."

He also held that if the minimum charge were not to be deemed a condition as contemplated under Section 41(1)(b) it might still be levying a charge which is unreasonable bringing it within the power of the tribunal under Section 41(i)(c). The dissenting member Mr. Roy did not deal with the contention that the charge under Rule 82 (2) (ii) was a condition within Section 41(1)(b) but treating it as one to which the terms of Section 41(1)(c) were sought to be attracted, repelled the argument by stating that if the charges were standardised in the sense of their being iixed and uniform in their application, the power of the Tribunal was excluded and it was the Central Government alone which had the power to lower the rate under Section 42(2)(a). It will be seen that the contention of Mr. Krishnaswami Aiyar really seeks to support the reasoning of the dissenting member.

9. Having considered the matter carefully, we are in entire accord with the opinion of the majority that the Tribunal have jurisdiction to determine the unreasonableness of the minimum charge condition levied under Rule 82(2) (ii), Goods Tariff Rules.". In the first place, we consider that this charge is in the nature of a condition, attached to a rate. The rate may be either a wagon load rate or a telescopic class rate. But if to the obtaining of these rates, conditions are prescribed which make the rates inapplicable, unless a minimum weight, packing etc., arc complied with, the tribunal are vested with jurisdiction to determine the reasonableness of such conditions and to the charging of the rates in cases where such conditions are not present.

We see considerable force in the contention of learned counsel for respondents that the prescribing of a minimum charge under Rule 82(2)(ii) is a condition of the same or similar nature to the one regarding those, specifically enumerated in Sub-clause (b).

10. We are also of the opinion that the complaint in relation to the minimum wagon load charge also falls within Section 41(1)(c) as "levying charges (other than standardised terminal charges) which are unreasonable". The dissenting member Mr. Roy has construed this sub-clause as excluding from the preview of the Tribunal any complaint that a standardised charge is unreasonable. In the first place, if all standardised charges are to be excluded from the jurisdiction of the Tribunal, there is no necessity to specify "standardised terminal charges" as outside their jurisdiction in the sub-clause. The expression "charges" is not defined in the Railways Act but is used in most places as synonymous with rates: (cf. Section 61 of the Act).

In any event, it would include a charge of the type with which we arc here concerned gamely a minimum wagon load charge under Rule 82(2)(ii).

If it is a charge within the meaning of the Rail-wdys Act, there is nothing in the context to take it out of the scope of the jurisdiction of the Tribunal under Section 41(1)(c) if the complaint is that its levy is unreasonable. The ground upon which the dissenting member rested his conclusion, namely, that the sub-clause should be read as excluding from the jurisdiction of the tribunal standardised charges does not appear to us to be correct. We have already mentioned that if the expression "charges" --outside the brackets--were to be understood as excluding all standardised charges, the specific exclusion of the standardised 'terminal' charges would really be meaningless and otiose.

In our opinion the exclusion of the standardised terminal charges necessarily implies that the 'charges" whose unreasonableness the Tribunal can consider would also include standardised charges.

11. In this context reference may be made to the principle of statutory construction laid down by Lord Thankerton delivering the judgment of the Privy Council in -- 'Province of Bombay v. Hor-musji Manekji', AIR 1947 PC 200 (A), His Lordship said.

"It is a familiar principle of statutory construction that where you find in the same section express exceptions from the operative part of the section, it may be assumed, unless it otherwise appears from the language employed, that these exceptions were necessary, as otherwise the subject-matter of the exceptions would have come within the operative provisions of the section."

The conclusion of the majority is also supported by reference to Section 460 of the Act. Under Section 460 which contains the definition of several expressions used in the chapter in which Section 41 occurs, the sub-clause (f) defines "schedule rate", which is the same as a standardised rate as "a rate lower than the maximum or class rate applied on a commodity basis." It would, therefore, obviously include a wagon load late which is a special rate lower than the tele scopic class rate. It will he seen that though a wagon load rate is also a standardised charge, the reasonableness of this rate is within the jurisdiction of the Tribunal under Section 41(1)(b). It is therefore clear that the intention of the framers of the Act was not to exclude altogether from the jurisdiction of the Tribunal all disputes relating to the reasonableness of every component of a standardised rate (sic) charge.

12. It only remains to consider whether the reasonableness of these charges is excluded from the Tribunal's competence by Section 42, Railways Act. We are clearly of the opinion that the complainants are not seeking to reduce the level of class rates, scheduled rates, terminal or other charges. Their complaint is not to have their level reduced but their being declared unreasonable. The difference between a reduction of a level of a schedule rate and a declaration that it is unreasonable would be seen when the matter is examined in relation to station (sic) station rates or wagon load rates both of which would be comprehended within the expression "schedule rate" in Section 42(2). There could be no doubt as regards the power of the tribunal to determine the reasonableness of these rates for they are specifically enumerated in Section 41(1)(b).

It is therefore clear that the power to reduce a level of a schedule rate is quite different from a power to declare a rate to be unreasonable and there is no necessary conflict between Section 42(2)(a) and Section 41. The Tribunal are not, when they are declaring a levy of a particular charge to be unreasonable in relation to a particular trader or to a particular commodity, reducing the level of the rate applicable to the commodity.

13. We, therefore, agree with the majority of the Tribunal and hold that they had jurisdiction to determine whether the minimum wagon load was or was not unreasonable.

14. The next matter to be considered is in relation to the relief which they could afford to the complainants and the form of the order which they could pass on their finding that the charge was unreasonable. The order passed by them is to the effect that

"grass dry, bagassee and paper waste and cuttings booked to a paper or strawboard mill to be used as vaw materials for the manufacture of paper or strawboard should be exempted from the application of the minimum charge per wagon laid down in Rule 82(2)(ii) in Chap. I of the I. R. C. A.'s goods tariff No. 28."

Mr. Krishnaswami Aiyar learned counsel for the railways raised an objection to the form of this order by stating that the tribunal had no power to order any exemption. We agree with this criticism of learned counsel. The grant of an exemption proceeds upon the footing that the charge is not merely legal but reasonable and that though in law the party ought to pay yet for some special reason it would be hard to exact the charge from such individual.

On the other hand, if the finding of the tribunal was that the charge was unreasonable, then the applicant had a right to be relieved from the levy not because there was a hardship in his being asked to pay, notwithstanding that it is properly payable by him, but it was not proper for the railways to have demanded the same. The use of the expression "exempted" by the Tribunal was not therefore happy or correct. But on their finding that the charge was unreasonable, the proper order to have passed was to have granted a declaration to that effect which they were certainly competent to do under Section 39 of the Act. As the Central Government are the owners of the railways in India, there is no necessity for any order by way of an injunction directing them to give effect to the declaration for Section 39 itself provides for the Government or the railway administrations giving effect to the orders of the tribunal.

Mr. Krishnaswami Aiyar learned counsel for the railways mentioned to us that if we agreed with the tribunal on the interpretation of Section 41(1)(b) and 41(1)(c) regarding their jurisdiction to declare this charge to be unreasonable, it would be sufficient for us merely to declare the unreasonableness of the charge and the Central Government would give effect to this declaration by passing the necessary orders. In this view, we direct that in the place of the order of the Tribunal, a declaration do issue that the levying of the charge as laid down in Rule 82 (2)(ii) in Chap. I of the I. R. C. A's goods tariff No. 28 is unreasonable with reference to the articles and commodities mentioned in the order of the Tribunal. Subject to this declaration, the petition is dismissed with costs of contesting respondents. Advocate's fee Rs.

250.

15. W. P. No. 222 of 1954: The complaint in this writ petition relates to that portion of the claim which has been rejected by the tribunal as beyond their jurisdiction. The matter relates to the charges levied lor transport of strawboards from the complainant-mills (petitioners here) to the consuming areas. Strawboard has been classified as No. 2 in the standard telescopic class which has been in torce from 1-10-1948 and the same rate is applicable whether for smalls or for wagon loads. In their complaint, the complainants stated their grievance under this head in paras. 23, 25, 26, 28 and 29 as follows:

"23. The applicant mills despatch regular traffic in wagon loads to all over India, which in 1950

amounted to

from Bilimora 328 wagons

Meerut City 292 wagons

Bhopal 319 wagons.

25. The said large traffic in wagon loads is chargeable at class 2 rate, i.e., at the same rate as for smalls. But the respondent railways have issued local instructions to all despatching stations specifying minimum weights for registering re quests for the supply of wagons. These weight conditions vary from 240 to 120 maunds according to the commodities. In the case of strawboard the minimum weight thus fixed is 240 maunds per wagon though the rate chargeable is class 2 rate applicable to "smalls". The intention of this rule is to obtain a high load per wagon for commodities booked at standard telescopic class rates as applies to traffic in small lots, for which no wagon load scale has been provided.

"26. The applicant mills, however, are in a position to, and do, offer 450 to 500 maunds per wagon load according to the capacity of the wagon supplied, and, therefore, one of the standard telescopic wagon load scales namely WL/F with a weight condition of say 450 maunds RR. L. would be justi- fied both as a reasonable facility and a reasonable rate, inasmuch as the railway revenue would be considerably increased thereby, and wagon space would be economised.

28. The applicant submits that in respect of wagon load traffic in strawboard, the rate now available to the applicant is unreasonable 'per se'.

29. That a reasonable rate would be arrived at by applying one of the 13 said wagon load scales, viz., WL/F wagon load scale with weight condition of 450 maunds per wagon." The charge of unreasonableness in regard to the rates for the commodity is based upon the absence of a wagon load scale covering cases where the mills are able to offer full wagon loads. The railway administrations contended that the tribunal had no jurisdiction to declare the charges unreasonable merely on the ground that no wagon load scale has been prescribed for the transport of this commodity. This objection has been upheld and the tribunal have unanimously rejected the complaint without considering the question whether the charge of unreasonableness is or is not made out. The argument on behalf of the petitioner mills is that the Tribunal have improperly declined jurisdiction on a misconstruction of Sections 41 and 42, Indian Railways Act.

16. It would be necessary to set out the general scheme of the rate structure prevailing in the Railways in order to appreciate the contentions raised for our consideration. As already mentioned, under Rule 63, General Rules, the rates charged by the railways fall into three divisions, viz., standard telescopic class rates, standard telescopic wagon load scales and station-to-station rates. The standard telescopic class rates are set out in Sub-rule (4) of this rule and it is they which govern the transport of strawboards. Omitting from consideration station-to-station rates which are not relevant to the present case, the standard telescopic wagon load scales are provided for by Chap. VIII (Vide Rule 63(6)).

Under this chapter there are 13 wagon load scales which are designated by the letters of alphabet A to I with different bases per maund per mile rates. Commodities are set out in the alphabetical order of their names and such of them to which specific wagon load scales are applicable are set out in column 3 of this table- Strawboard is classified under class 2 of the standard telescopic rates and as_ there is no wagon load scale applicable to it, column 3 is left blank. The result is that whatever be the quantity of goods offered whether they are in small packages or wagon loads, the rate charged is the normal standard telescopic mileage rate with out any concession being shown because of the traders offering wagon loads. It is this which is complained of by the petitioners as an unreasonable charge.

17. The ground upon which the tribunal declined to adjudicate the unreasonableness of this charge may be set out in the words of the President Mr. Lokur:

"It is not now urged that the classification of strawboard under class 2 is 'per se' unreasonable or that its class should be reduced to class 1....but what is urged is that a suitable wagon load scale should be assigned to it when carried as a wagon load and the question that arises is whether this tribunal has jurisdiction to do so. Section 41(1) which empowers the tribunal to hear and decide any complaint that a railway administration is charging station-to-station rates or wagon load rates which are unreasonable is not intended to empower the Tribunal to interfere when there is no wagon load scale for any particular commodity.....When such a lower rate is already assigned to any commodity carried as a wagon load, it is open to this Tribunal to alter it to a still lower rate if that rate is found to be unreasonable.

But in the case of strawboards, there is no wagon load rate at all and in my opinion this tribunal has no jurisdiction to assign a wagon load rate to it. This is clear from Section 42(2)(b) of the Act which says that the Central Government alone shall have power to classify any commodity which has not been classified before. According to the definition given in 46 (C)(a).....commodities can be grouped not only into those to which different class rates are assigned but also into those to which wagon load rates are assigned. Such classification is set out in Chap. VIII of the Goods tariff under the heading "General classification of goods". If any commodity is not specifically mentioned by name in the General classification table in that chapter, it may be said to be "unclassed", but not one to which no class is assigned, because that very table assigns class 15 to all such commodities and it is specifically provided in Rule 69 in Chap. I that commodities not specified in the tariff are charged at the 15th class rate.

It follows, therefore, that so far as smalls are concerned there is no commodity to which a class rat has not been assigned. Hence Section 42(2)(b) must have been intended to apply only to wagon load rates. It does not stand to reason that if a rate has not been assigned to a wagon load of any commodity, it should be deemed to be placed in the highest class under Rule 69. That rule applies only commodities and not to particular quantities of (sic) commodities. Hence Section 42(2)(b) must apply to the classification or grouping of commodities carried in wagon loads and if no special rate, either a lower class rate or a wagon load scale, is assigned to any commodity carried as a wagon load, then the Central Government alone has power to assign either of them to it. It is only then that this Tribunal can consider and decide under Section 41(1)(b) whether that rate is unreasonable.

It is left to the Central Government to consider whether any commodity deserves the conces-tion of a lower rate when carried as a wagon load and this tribunal has no jurisdiction to interfere with the discretion of the Central Government in that behalf. Since no wagon load rate is assigned to strawboard this Tribunal has no jurisdiction to consider and decide whether any special lower rate should be assigned to it when it is transported as a wagon load.

It is true that subject to the provisions of Section 42(2)(a), Section 41(1)(c) gives wide powers to this tribunal to interfere with charges (other than standardized terminal charges) which are unreasonable. But that clause does not apply to the grouping or classification of commodities for the purpose of freight rates."

18. Learned counsel for the petitioners first urged before us that the complaint in respect of this matter fell within Section 41(1)(b), Indian Railways Act. His contention was that the expression "charging.... wagon load rates which are unreasonable in this sub-section is comprehensive to include not merely cases where a wagon load rate has been prescribed but also those where for a wagon load, a rate is charged which is merely the telescopic class rate. In this connection, he drew our attention to the scheme of freight rates as obtaining in America where there is a similar classification of commodities and there is a table specifying the charges for "less than a car-load" corresponding to smalls in the Indian Railway rate parlance, and car-loads. In the American system in the column corresponding to the third column in the General Classification or Goods in Chap. VIII, even in cases, where the rates for "less than a car-load" and for a car-load are exactly the same both are set off.

From this learned counsel for the writ petitioner argues that in cases where the rate charged for a wagon load is identical with that charged for smalls, it is really a wagon load rate that has been prescribed though this happens to be the same as the rate for smalls. In other words the argument seeks to efface all distinction between wagon load scales which may be applicable only to particular commodities and wagon load rates which are applicable to every commodity whether a wagon load scale is applicable to it or not, and treat both as ''a wagon load rate" within Section 41(1)(b). From the complaint before the tribunal as well as the arguments before that body, it appears that this was the main contention which the petitioners urged before them. We are of the opinion that this argument is unsound. In the first place, the expression "wagon load rate" has to be understood in the context where it occurs in conjunction with "station-to-station rate" which is the third type of rate as specified in Rule 63. In the threefold classification of rates both "station to station rates" as well as "wagon load rates" are concessional rates that is, they would he less than the schedule class rates.

Just as the expression ''station to station'' rates in Sub-clause (d) of Section 41(1) cannot be understood as meaning merely a rate which prevails between two stations, so also the expression "wagon load rate" cannot be understood to mean merely the rate applicable to a wagon load. Learned counsel for the petitioners placed before us several decisions including that of the House of Lords in -- "London and North Eastern Ry. Co. v. Berriman', 1946 AC 278 (B) for the position that words in a statute are to be understood in the normal dictionary sense unless evidence was placed before the court that they were used with any scientific or technical meaning.

The proposition as stated is certainly not open to dispute but in the context in which the words occur in Section 41(1)(b) we are clearly of the opinion that the tribunal are right in the construction that the expression "wagon load rates" has been used in the sense of a rate applied to a commodity to which one of 13 wagon load scales is made applicable in Chap. VIII.

19. This however does not dispose of the matter. The question still remains as to whether the com-plaint in the present case as regards the rates charged is not within Section 41(1)(c). The ground upon which the tribunal have rejected the applicability of Sub-clause (c) is on the ground that the relief really sought for by the petitioners was covered by Section 42 (2)(b). It is no doubt true that the petitioners are not desirous of having a classification of an unclassified commodity in the sense in which Rule 69 speaks of unclassified goods for strawboard is & classified and is shown in class (2) the classification in Chap. VIII (Vide Rule 63(2)). The petitioners are not also asking for a re-classification of straw-board by having it transferred from class 2 to class I (Vide Section 42(3)).

20. The question however is whether a trader could complain of a rate being unreasonably high when applied to him in particular circumstances. The Tribunal have rejected this portion of the complaint by construing the expression "classifica- tion" in Section 42(2)(b) to include the assignment of a wagon load scale to a commodity which did not previously have such a scale. The expression "classification" has been defined in Section 46(C)(a) as

"the grouping of commodities into classes as notified in the Indian Railway Conference Associations Goods tariff and as in force at the commencement of the Indian Railways (Second Amendment) Act, 1948 for the purpose of determining the rate to be charged."

In the Association's Goods tariff referred to in this definition strawboard has been classified for the purpose of determining the rate to be charged and put into class 2 in the schedule of telescopic rates and is not included in the list of commodities to which a wagon load scale is applicable under the same chapter.

It is on account of this that in respect of "this commodity the smalls rate is also applicable to wagon loads. The meaning of expression "classification" in Section 42(2)(b) has to be read in the light of the definition in Section 46(C)(a) which is made applicable to the_ sections in Chap. V which includes Section 42. Read in the light of this definition, it is clear that a classification of a commodity may be for one of two purposes firstly for the application of the telescopic class rate and secondly for the application of the wagon load scale. In either case, it would be a classification of a commodity within the meaning of Section 42(2)(b). It cannot be contended that if a matter is covered by Section 42(2), the Tribunal would have power over that subject. For the proper rule of construction is to read the matters set out in Section 41 as comprehending those which are not specifically excluded from the purview of the Kates Tribunal by express language in Section 42(2). On the application of this principle, it is clear to us that the Tribunal had no jurisdiction to enquire into the reasonableness of the non-assignment of a wagon scale to the transport of strawboard.

21. There is one other aspect of the matter which, we consider, also leads us to the same conclusion. If the word "charges" in Section 41(1)(c) were to be read in the wide and general sense of including any payment demanded by the railway administration for the carriage of goods other than standardised terminal charges, there would be absolutely no necessity for the provision in Section 41(1)(b) which gives jurisdiction to the Tribunal to enquire into the reasonableness only of particular rates or charges. In other words, on this construction of Section 41(1)(c) not merely station-to-station rates and wagon load rates but every other rate would be included in the later sub-clause and there would be no necessity to enumerate them specifically.

Moreover the condition in Sub-clause (1)(b) that the complaint must relate to the rates charged being unreasonable "owing to conditions attached to them regarding the minimum weight, packing etc.," would seem to indicate that it is only the imposition of these conditions that would enable an attack to be made regarding the reasonableness of a rate. On the other hand, if the contention advanced on behalf of the petitioners is accepted, a general attack on the reasonableness of the rates could be sustained under Sub-clause (c) while a limited challenge to its reasonableness could be made under Sub-clause (b), a situation which plainly indicates that this construc-tion cannot be accepted.

22. It is also not without significance that S, 41 as it was enacted by Act 45 of 1948 used the expression "is charging unreasonable rates" and this has been modified when the section was re-drafted in 1949 so that the intention obviously was to make a distinction between rates and charges. We are clearly of opinion that the expression "charges" in Section 41(1)(c) does not include the jurisdiction to determine the reasonableness of a rate apart altogether from the conditions pertaining to the rate (vide Section 41(1)(b)).

23. The result is that the Tribunal was right in its construction of Section 41(1)(b) and 41(1)(c). It follows that this writ petition fails and is dismissed with costs. Advocate's fee Rs. 250.


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