1. The petitioner had a permit to ply a bus M. D. H. 1811 in Chingleput district. About 1-40 p.m. on 27-6-1956 the Assistant Motor Vehicles Inspector, Chingleput, stopped and checked the bus and found that it carried 49 adults excluding the driver, conductor and the checking inspector while the permitted seating capacity was; only 45 passengers. A notice was issued to the petitioner to show cause why he should not be punished for contravention of the terms of his permit. The petitioner explained that the bus carried only 45 passengers, one new checking inspector by name K. Sampath (who was being trained by the regular checking Inspector) and 3 police constables who were urgently going to Madurantakam and had got in at Uttiramerur. These were the extra 4 persons who were seen in the bus when the checking officer checked the bus.
In this explanation he added that the 3 constables had got into the bus in spite of the protests of his employees on the ground that they were urgently going to Madurantakam in hot pursuit of an escaped under trial prisoner. The Regional Transport Authority concluded ; "Whoever might have been the persons allowed to travel and whatever might have been the circumstances, the vehicle was found overloaded at the time of the check which is a violation of one of the conditions of the permit. So I hold the charge proved." Thereafter he proceeded to suspend the permit of the petitioner for one week.
2. The petitioner then appealed to the State Transport Appellate Tribunal. The State Transport Appellate Tribunal observed ;
"From the definition of "passenger" in R. 3(h) of the Madras Motor Vehicles Rules, it is clear that only the checking inspector on duty can be exempted. Thus, even if we accept the truth of the appellant's explanation, there is overload at least by one."
in that view he affirmed the punishment which the Regional Transport Authority had levied.
3. Miss Amiraddin, the learned advocate for the petitioner, contended that the view which the State Transport Appellate Tribunal took that only the checking inspector on duty can be excluded ia not correct. Rule 3(h), as it stood before its amendment in 1956 ran as follows :
"Passenger for the purposes of these rules means any person travelling in a public service vehicle other than the driver or the conductor or an employee of the permit-holder while on duty. The contention for the petitioner was that the man called Sampath who was undergoing training must have been regarded as a person on duty. It is well known that in Government service persons who are recruited for some particular post or other are attached for training to some more senior officer. Persons so selected, while learning the duties of the post for which they are recruited are always considered to be on duty. The officer taking the, training and the officer giving the training are both regarded to be on duty. That being so, I am unable to accept the view of the State Transport Appellate Tribunal that only the checking Inspector fehould be regarded to have been -on duty. Now it might sometimes be difficult to decide whether in a particular case an employee of the permit-holder who claims to be on duty is actually so or not.
It was apparently with a view to solve this difficulty that an explanation was added to this definition in G. O. Ms. 1724 dated 14-6-1956. Whether this explanation applies to the particular case does not appear to have been considered by either the Regional Transport Authority or the State Transport Appellate Tribunal. It is not clear from the order of the State Transport Appellate Tribunal whether it accepted the explanation of the petitioner that the three constables had boarded the bus notwithstanding the protests of the conductor or the driver as the case may be.
4. The position, therefore, is that the ground on which the State Transport Appellate Tribunal held that the conditions of the term had been con-bravened cannot be supported. The order of the State Transport Appellate Tribunal is set aside. It will be at liberty to dispose of the matter afresh.
5. There will be no orders as to costs.