(1) On the ground that the conductor of the petitioner's bus, contrary to Rule 223 of the Motor Vehicles Rules, declined to carry the daughter of a certain passenger, the Secretary of the Regional Transport Authority suspended its permit for a period of seven days with option to compound. The father of the girl made a complaint alleging that he took 11/2 tickets for himself and his daughter who was below 12 years of age, the agent of the bus at the stand was, after seeing his daughter, satisfied that she was under 12 years of age and admitted that half a ticket for her would be sufficient, that, nevertheless, when both of them were travelling in the bus, the conductor, behaving rudely and in an unmannerly fashion, asked them to get down from the bus, stating that the girl must be more than 12 years of age and must have a full ticket. The Secretary, the Regional Transport Authority, was not prepared to accept the explanation of the petitioner as it considered that "the girl does not look above 12 years" and that the father of the girl himself stated that she was only 11 years and that, therefore, the petitioner was guilty of a breach of the said rule. The Tribunal concurred with that view.
(2) Though the question before both the authorities below was what was the age of the girl, the Secretary of the Regional Transport Authority, decided it by a mere look at the girl. No doubt, there was also the statement of the girl's father that the girl was only 11 years of age. It should be remembered that proceedings like these are of a criminal nature and therefore it would be necessary, before an operator is found guilty of breach or a rule involving suspension that the facts are established on a proper and tangible evidence and beyond a reasonable possibility of doubt. It is common knowledge that it is unsafe to judge the age of a person, especially of a woman or a girl, merely by a look at him or her. Even scientific tests for the purpose may not be conclusive. That being the case, I do not think that the mere look by the Secretary, the Regional Transport authority, at the girl could have been a legal or proper basis for fixing with reasonable certainty the age of the girl. In such cases, it would be necessary that there is some other material for fixing the age.
(3) On that view, I think the suspension in this case suffers from an error apparent on the face of the order of the Secretary of the Regional Transport authority. The petition is allowed and the suspension is quashed. No costs.
(4) Petition allowed.