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N. Subramaniam, Golden Transports, Tiruttani Vs. A.K. Raman, Raman Transports, Tiruttani and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectMotor Vehicles
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Case NumberWrit Appeal No. 157 of 1965
Judge
Reported inAIR1967Mad232
ActsMotor Vehicles Act - Sections 48 and 48A
AppellantN. Subramaniam, Golden Transports, Tiruttani
RespondentA.K. Raman, Raman Transports, Tiruttani and anr.
Cases ReferredHarinagar Sugar Mills Ltd. v. Shyam Sunder.
Excerpt:
motor vehicles (madras amendment) act (iii of 1964), section 5(2)-- scope and retrospectivity of amendment act--object of section 5(2)--variation of bus route--whether grant by regional transport authority permissible under amending act--whether appellate tribunal court ; the appellant, who was plying his buses on the route m to t applied in 1961 for the variation of the route as m to a via t, which was ultimately granted by the regional transport authority, by its order, dated 3rd december 1962. the first respondent, an operator on a portion of the route covered by the varied route preferred a revision to the state transport appellate tribunal. pending the revision, the high court by the full bench decision in natesa v. dhanapal bus service (p), ltd., (1) held that the.....1. this is an appeal from the judgment of our learned brother srinivasan, j. quashing the order of the regional transport authority, chingleput in a proceeding under the motor vehicles act for the variation of a stage carriage route. the appellant before us who was plying his buses on the route madras to tiruttani applied in 1961 for the variation of the route as madras to ammavarikuppam via tiruttani. the first respondent in the appeal has been operating on a portion of the route sought to be covered by the varied route, the first respondent's buses running between tiruttani and sholinghur via ammavarikuppam. on the appellant securing the variation as prayed for from the regional transport authority by its order dated 25-11-1961, the first respondent preferred a revision to the state.....
Judgment:
1. This is an appeal from the judgment of our learned brother Srinivasan, J. quashing the order of the Regional Transport authority, Chingleput in a proceeding under the Motor Vehicles Act for the variation of a stage carriage route. The appellant before us who was plying his buses on the route Madras to Tiruttani applied in 1961 for the variation of the route as Madras to Ammavarikuppam via Tiruttani. The first respondent in the appeal has been operating on a portion of the route sought to be covered by the varied route, the first respondent's buses running between Tiruttani and Sholinghur via Ammavarikuppam. On the appellant securing the variation as prayed for from the Regional Transport authority by its order dated 25-11-1961, the first respondent preferred a revision to the State Transport Appellate Tribunal, Madras(hereinafter referred to as the S.T.A.T) and the Tribunal by its order dated 5-5-1962 remanded the matter back to the Regional Transport authority (hereinafter referred to as R.T.A) for fresh disposal taking up the matter over again. The R.T.A. on 3-12-1962 again granted the variation as prayed for and again the matter was taken up in revision to the S.T.A.T. in R.P. 208 of 1962.

Pending the revision, this court by the Full Bench decision in Natesa Mudaliar v. Sri Dhanapal Bus Service, Ltd., Kancheepuram, held that the R.T.A. had no power to grant variation of the route in respect of a stage carriage permit, a route not being a condition to the permit. In view of this decision, on the ground that the R.T.A. had no jurisdiction to vary the route attached to the permit, the S.T.A.T. by its order dated 30-10-1963, without going into the merits of the case set aside the order of the Regional Transport authority granting the variation. The appellant herein brought up the matter to this court by W.P. 1411 of 1963 and pending the writ petition the State Legislature enacted Madras Act 3 of 1964 making the route a condition of the permits, thus getting round the decision of the Full Bench. The Full Bench decision was given on 6-9-1963 and amending Act was published in the Gazette on 19-2-1964. The Amending Act purports to remove the infirmities declared by the Full Bench decision and to grant power to the R.T.A. to vary the route with retrospective effect, validating all proceedings for grant of variation taken prior to the amendment. It is stated that the appellant withdrew the writ petition on 26-6-1964. On that very day, the R.T.A. purporting to act under the provisions of the amendment Act 3 of 1964, made endorsements of the permits of the appellant giving effect to the variations which it had ordered on 3-12-1962. It is this order of the R.T.A. that has been challenged as beyond the jurisdiction of the authority and not permissible under the amendment Act. The scope and extent of the retrospectively of the amendment is the question for consideration.

(2) The impugned order made by the Regional Transport authority on 26-6-1964 runs thus:

"In view of the provisions laid down under Amendment Act i.e. Act 3 of 1964, Motor Vehicles(Madras Amendment) the parts A and B permits in respect of stage carriages MDH. 2657 and MDH 3012 are returned herewith after making necessary entries therein giving effect to the orders of the R.T.A. mentioned in the reference first cites".

The orders given effect to are the orders of the Regional Transport authority dated 3-12-1962 granting the variation which had been set aside by the S.T.A.T. in R.P. No. 208 of 1962 on 30-10-1963. The impugned order referees also to the said revision proceedings of the S.T.A.T. To appreciate the contentions that are raised in this case it is necessary to refer briefly the position in the matter of grant of variation of routes before the Full Bench decision and the effect of the decision. Under Section 48(d) of the Motor Vehicles Act as it stood prior to its amendment by Central Act 100 of 1956, one of the conditions of the permit which the Transport authority was empowered to attach to a stage carriage permit was that the carriage shall be used on specified route or in any specified area, Section 48-A, a Madras amendment, introduced in 1948 enabled the State Authority (the R.T.A.) at any time to vary, cancel or add to any conditions attached to the stage carriage permit. Rule 208 (a) prescribe the procedure for granting variation. Under the provisions as they stood, not merely was the route made a condition of the stage carriage permit but the authority which granted the permit had power to vary, cancel or add to the route. Central Act 100 of 1956 effected considerable changes in the Motor Vehicles Act. The route ceased to be a condition of the permit. Interpreting the provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act as amended by the Central Act, the Full bench held that Section 48 of the Act, as amended was quite explicit and left no room for doubt that the route was not a condition of the permit. Section 48(3) of the Act provided for conditions that may be included and incorporated as conditions of a permit. But none of the enumerated conditions in Section 48(3) referred to the route. It was therefore held by the Full Bench that the power of the Transport authority to vary the conditions of the permit conferred under S. 48-A of the Act would enable the authority to alter only the enumerated conditions specified in Section 48(3) and should not be construed as providing power to vary the route as if it is a condition of a permit.

(3) The Full Bench decision had far reaching consequences on passenger traffic requiring variations or extension of route in public interest More particularly it lay open to challenge on the ground of incompetency and want of jurisdiction the innumerable variations and extensions that had been granted by the transport authorities to provide facilities to the public. In the statement of objects and reasons for enacting the Amendment Act of 1964, referred to before us by both sides reference is made to the Full Bench decision of this court and the sudden stoppage of buses running on temporary permits consequent on the decision. The R.T.A. had till then been granting variation or extension of existing routes and pending consideration of applications for such variation or extension, transport facilities to the public were afforded by granting temporary permits. Consequent on the absence of jurisdiction declared by the Full Bench it was found not possible to connect unserved areas by grant of variations or extensions in cases where the sectors to be covered did not justify opening of separate routes Madras Act 3 of 1964 was enacted to restore the status quo with certain limitation.

As a result of the amendments made by the Act, in the Principal Act is Section 48, the route is made a condition of the permit and the Regional Transport Authority after giving notice of not less that one month is empowered to vary, extend or curtail, the route or routes or areas specified in the permit. There is however a limitation as regards the distance that could be covered by a variation or extension. There are other consequential amendments. By the amendments the provisions of the Act which led to the Full Bench holding that the R.T.A. had no authority or power to vary the conditions of the permit are suitably recast, and the amendments given retrospective effect. By Section 5 of the amending Act, notwithstanding the legal position before the amendment a route has to be regarded as having been a condition of the permit from the date of its grant which the R.T.A. was competent to vary, extend or curtail. S. 5 by sub-sec. (2) also validates all proceedings taken for the grant of, and all orders passed granting any variation, extension or curtailment of the route or routes or the area specified in a stage carriage permit before the commencement of the amending Act by the R.T.A. on appeal or revision notwithstanding variation any judgment or order of court. Proceedings and orders granting variation extension etc, are not to be invalidated merely by reason of the fact that the transport authority or the Regional Transport authority as the case may be had no power to grant the variation, extension etc.

(4) The R.T.A. in the present case has proceeded in the view that by reason of the provisions of the Amendment Act, the original order granting variation stood validated notwithstanding that on revision it had been set aside on the ground of want of jurisdiction. The contention raised on behalf of the opposite party the first respondent in the present appeal may be summed up thus: The Amendment Act only enacts that where an order has been made granting a variation, despite the decision of the Full Bench it shall hold good and shall not be invalidated for want of jurisdiction in the R.T.A. It does not go further and deal with a case where a statutory authority had ultimately refused to grant the variation, may be for want of jurisdiction only. The S.T.A.T. in this case finally set aside the grant on the law as it stood then as expounded by the Full Bench and Section 5(2) was not so retrospective as to step in and revive the non-existent original grant. The operation of the validating provisions of Section 5 should according to the Counsel for the contesting respondent be confined to orders which had not been specifically declared as invalid by any authority before the Amendment Act. It validated only variations which could have been challenged on the ground of want of jurisdiction but had not been by then so challenged; orders refusing variations were not touched by the amendment and only orders passed granting variations got validated by the Act.

(5) Our learned brother Srinivasan J., agreeing with the contention that only orders passed granting variations were validated by the Amendment Act and that orders refusing variation were not touched, quashed the order of the R.T.A. reviving the variations and endorsing the variations on the permits. In allowing the writ petition our learned brother refers with approval to the decision of Veeraswami J. in a batch of writ petitions 83, 87 and 163 of 1964, where the learned Judge has observed thus:

"Where revision petitions are allowed on the ground that the Regional Transport authority concerned had no power to vary, extend or curtail a route or area but without reference to the question whether it was needed in public interest, what is the effect of Section 5(2) on them in respect of their merits? It is argued that the revision petitions will have to be disposed of afresh on the merits. I cannot agree. Though the ground of jurisdiction on which the revision petitions were allowed should by reason of the Section 5, be deemed as never good, the fiction cannot be carried further to nullify the finality of the order in revision or appeal".

(6) The learned Advocate General appearing for the appellant, the grantee of the variation contends that in thus limiting the retrospective operation of the Act due effect has not been given to Section 5 sub-section (2) of the Amending Act. It is submitted that read with sub-section (1) of the section its effect is to nullify the effect of any judgment or order in validating the grant of variation on the ground of want of jurisdiction in the R.T.A. and revive and give life to the order granting the variation.

(7) It will now be convenient to set out the provisions of Section 5 of Madras Act 3 of 1964, Section 5 runs thus:

"Section 5(1): Notwithstanding anything contained in the principal Act, the route or routes or the area specified in every stage carriage permit granted before the commencement of this Act shall be deemed to be a condition attached to such permit under sub-section (2) of S. 48 of the Principal Act, as if this Act were in force on the date of grant of such permit:

(2) Notwithstanding any judgment or order of any Court, all proceedings taken for the grant of, and all orders passed granting any variation, extension or curtailment of the route or routes, or the area specified in a stage carriage permit before the commencement of this Act, by the State Transport Authority or by an authority or person to whom the powers and functions of the State Transport Authority or a Regional Transport Authority have been delegated, by an authority exercising the powers of appeal or revision against the orders of the State Transport authority or a Regional Transport authority, shall not be deemed to be invalid merely by reason of the fact that the State Transport Authority or the Regional Transport Authority, as the case my be, had no power to grant such variation, extension or curtailment and all such proceedings taken or orders passed shall be deemed always to have been validly taken or passed in accordance with law notwithstanding the distance covered by the variation or extension exceeded twenty four kilometers".

(8) The broad features of the provision may first be considered. By the earlier sections of the Amendment Act, necessary amendments in the body of the Principal Act are carried out, the effect of which is to grant the Regional Transport authority the power to vary, extend or curtail the route or routes or areas specified in the permits. But these amendments will have only prospective operation. By sub-section (1) of Section 5, the amendments are made retrospective, that variations of stage carriage permits in force which had been granted by the R.T.A. may stand validated, Sub-section (1) of Section 5 introduces a legal fiction that notwithstanding what the Principal Act had contained, the route or routes or areas specified in every stage carriage permit granted before the commencement of the Act shall be deemed to be a condition attached to such permit. Its obvious effect is to protect from challenge all variations granted by the Regional Transport authority prior to the amendment. The route is deemed to be a condition attached to the permit from the date of the grant of the permit itself. The inevitable consequence of this deeming provision is to validate the grant of variation by the Regional Transport authority who had power under Section 48-A to order variation. Section 48-A stood repealed only from the date of the amendment. To this extent there is no dispute.

(9) But the Legislature has not stopped with the retrospective operation provided for in Sub-section (1), Sub-section (2) of S. 5 starts with the non-obstante clause "Notwithstanding any judgment or order or any Court". The learned Advocate General contends that the object of Sub-section (2) is to set aside or annual the order of any Court invalidating a variation on the ground of want of jurisdiction in the Regional Transport Authority thereby reviving the original grant. The learned Advocate General contends that the word "Court" in Sub-sec (2) would take in also in its context any Tribunal, in this case the State Transport Appellate Tribunal.

(10) The power of the Legislature to pass laws with retrospective effect and validate provisions struck down by judgments of Courts is not questioned. As observed in Ramakrishna v. State of Bihar, .

"Where the Legislature can make a valid law, it may provide not only for the prospective operation of the material provisions of the said law but it can also provide for the retrospective operation of the said provisions. Similarly there is no doubt that the legislative power in question includes the subsidiary or the auxiliary power to validate laws which have been found to be invalid. If a law passed by a legislature is struck down by the Courts as being invalid for one infirmity or another, it would be competent to the appropriate legislature to cure the said infirmity and pass a validating law so as to make the provisions of the said earlier law effective from the date when it was passed".

The power of the legislature when it feels the necessity for passing a validating Act to nullify the effect of judgments of Courts has been recognised and was not the subject matter of challenge before us. Only it must not be hit by Art. 14 of the Constitution as being discriminatory, See Pieare Dusadh v. Emperor, AIR 1944 F.C. 1 at p. 8. But Mr. K.K. Venugopal contends that the language of Section 5(2) does not warrant the content ascribed to it by the learned Advocate General. Learned counsel submits that when the legislature posses a validating Act in view of the situation created by the judgment of a court, the legislature may merely intend to render inoperative the judgment as a precedent. No doubt it may also annual the effect of the judgment on the subject matter of the particular proceeding, and of other proceedings where the judgment has been followed; for such consequence there must be express language in the enactment. The judgments must be declared void. It is submitted that Section 5(2) only renders the Full Bench judgment inoperative as a precedent and the retrospectivity does not extend further so as to validate the grant which had been set aside by the judgment, and render the judgment itself ineffective. Learned counsel contends that the reference in sub-section (2) is only to the judgment of the Full Bench as made apparent by the statement of objects and reasons for the Bill.

(11) Reference is made to the language in the Orissa Municipal Elections Validation Ordinance 1 of 1959, the subject of consideration in State of Orissa v. Bhupendra Kumar, . There after validating the electoral rolls with retrospective effect by S. 3, by S. 4 the order of the court declaring the election to the Cuttack Municipality invalid on the ground inter alia that the electoral rolls were invalid was expressly declared to have been of no legal effect whatsoever and further the election to the Municipality was in express terms validated. Learned counsel contends further that the word "court" in sub-section (2) must be confined only to a civil court and cannot include the State Appellate Tribunal which in the instant case invalidated the grant of variation.

(12) Having given our careful consideration to the arguments of counsel on both sides we are of the opinion that if full scope is given to sub-section (2) of S. 5, in its setting it validates also grants of variation which have been invalidated by judgments or orders of courts; for we are unable to see what other function it could have in the context. To accept the argument of the learned counsel for the respondent, that sub-section (2) of S. 5 is intended only to preclude the operation of the Full Bench judgment or any other judgment or order of court as precedent, is to hold that the draftsman is repeating himself as the object is achieved by S. 5(1) itself. Courts would be hesitant to adopt such a construction. As observed in Sirajul Haq v. Sunni Central Board of Waqf. U.P., :

"It is well settled that in construing the provisions of a statute courts should be slow to adopt a construction which tends to make any part of the statute meaningless or ineffective; an attempt must always be made so as to reconcile the relevant provisions as to advance the remedy intended by the statute".

Sub-section (1) of S. 5 by its deeming provision is sufficient to validate all grants of variations. If the validity of any grant should be questioned on the ground of lack of jurisdiction before any authority all that is needed to protect the grant is to draw the attention of the authority to S. 5(1). As a result of the legal fiction provided by S. 5(1), after the amendment, the contention would not be open that on the date the variation was granted, the route was not a condition of the permit and that the Regional Transport Authority had no jurisdiction to grant the variation. It may be that when the variation was granted, it was patently invalid on the view taken by the Full Bench. But the Amending Act says that when the variation was granted the statute was not the one that was the subject of consideration by the Full Bench. The deeming provision states that the statute was, before as after the amendment, such that gave the R.T.A. the requisite jurisdiction. That being the effect of sub-section (1) of S. 5 it will be otiose and purposeless to enact further that judgment and orders of court contrary should be ignored in future proceedings. As the amendment is expressly made to date back from the date of the grant of the permit itself, decisions on the language of the Act before the amendment automatically ceased to have any force. In Ditcher v. Denison, (1858) 11 Moo P.C. 324 at p. 337 (PC) the Judicial Committee observed:

"It is also a good general rule in jurisprudence that one who reads a legal document whether public or private, should not be prompt to ascribe--should not, without necessity or some sound reason impute--to its language tautology or superfluity, and should be rather at the outset inclined to suppose every word intended to have some effect or be of some use".

The effect of the legal fiction in sub-section (1) of S. 5 is to validate all grants of variations, extensions etc., made before the Act. But that will not cure the grants which had been specifically invalidated by courts. They may not be many but the variations might have been providing much needed transport facilities. If these grants declared void are validated the retrospective effect intended by the statute would be complete. Clearly the legislature in our opinion seeks to achieve this by sub-section (2) and the non-obstante clause in the beginning of the sub-section.

(13) Both sides have referred to the statement of objects and reasons. While the learned Advocate General contended that the status quo which was sought to be maintained was to maintain all grants of variations by the R.T.A. prior to the amendment Act; Mr. K.K. Venugopal argued that the status quo can have reference only to those variations which had not been invalidated by then and were being availed of But the statement of objects and reasons appended to a bill cannot be taken in aid for the construction of a statute. The objects and reasons may or may not correspond to the objective which the majority of members had in view when they passed it into law. But the statement of objects and reasons set out the circumstances prevalent at the time of the introduction of the Bill, a back-drop that could high-light ambiguous expressions in the Act.

(14) We shall now consider whether the language of sub-section (2) would without straining the language warrant the interpretation that judgment and orders of courts invalidating variations are rendered inoperative in respect of its subject matter. All that we need see in the present context is whether a fair reading leads to the result. It will facilitate study it just those parts of sub-section (2) as are applicable to the case on hand leaving out the unessential are set out. So extracted it would read:

"Notwithstanding any order of court, all orders passed granting variation of the route in a stage carriage permit before the commencement of this Act by a Regional Transport Authority shall not be deemed to be invalid merely by reason of the fact that the Regional Transport Authority had no power to grant such variation and all such orders passed shall be deemed always to have been validly passed in accordance with law."

If the non obstante clause is not there, the operative portion of sub-section (2) would only be setting out the effect of sub-clause (1) in relation in the grants made before the amendment, negatively--shall not be deemed to be invalid for want of jurisdiction in the R.T.A. and affirmatively--shall be deemed always to have been valid. The proceedings as well as orders thereon granting variation are validated. But if an order intervenes before the Amendment, invalidating the grant, the operative part of sub-section by itself is not of sufficient amplitude to remove it out of the way. Clearly this function is assigned to the non obstante clause. Under the operative part of sub-section (2) in the present case the grant by the R.T.A. shall not be deemed to be invalid merely for want of jurisdiction of the R.T.A. and the order granting the variation shall be deemed to have been validly passed. But the S.T.A.T. has declared it invalid merely on the ground of want of jurisdiction of R.T.A. The non obstante clause in our view sets aside this order. The non obstante clause provides that notwithstanding any judgement or order, the order granting the variation shall be deemed to have been validly passed. In the context it cannot refer to a judgment or order having no relation to the variation in consideration. It must refer only to a judgment or order having no relation to the variation in consideration. It must refer only to a judgment or order affecting the grant in question, which the operative part seeks to validate. It overrides any relevant judgment or order of court which is inconsistent with the latter parts of the sub-section. As observed in Aswini Kumar v. Arabinda Bose, the correct approach to construction when there is a non obstante clause should be as follows:-

"It should first be ascertained what the enacting part of the section provides on a fair construction of the words used according to their natural and ordinary meaning, and the non-obstante clause is to be understood as operating to set aside as no longer valid anything contained in relevant existing laws which is inconsistent with the new enactment".

Thus approached it is manifest that when providing sub-section (2) with the non obstante clause, the legislature could have had in view only orders of court which may stand in the way of the operative portion under the deeming clause of sub-section (2) taking effect.

(15) Mr. K.K. Venugopal, learned counsel submitted that there was one aspect of the matter, which is sound reason for avoiding this interpretation. Learned counsel submitted that where the variation had been declared void by a revisional or appellate authority or a court on the ground of want of jurisdiction, at the instance it may be, of the opposite party, without going into the merits of the grant, there would be no opportunity for the party for canvassing the grant on its merits if the grant is revived automatically. Learned counsel submits that the Act does not provide for any review of the case on merits by the authority that invalidated the grant and that the party who opposed the grant of variation would be deprived of his valuable right of opposing the grant on merits and that for no fault of his. It is submitted that in the revision which he preferred to the S.T.A.T. he had challenged the grant on merits and the matter has not been gone into at all by the Tribunal. The Tribunal had invalidated the grant solely on the ground of absence of jurisdiction in the R.T.A. No doubt, there is some force in the submission but when the words of the statue are clear, questions of fairness and hardship are not matters for the court to consider. When the enactment leaves little or no room for doubt, it is for the legislature to rectify any lacuna or drawbacks. Some emphasis was laid on the words at the end of sub-section (2) "notwithstanding the distance covered by the variation or extension exceeded twenty four kilo meters". This saving clause has obviously been necessitated as the Amending Act puts a limit on the distance that could be covered by variation or extension. Prior to the amendment there was no such limitation and some of the variations validated may exceed the limit. As such variations will not be in accordance with the amended Act they are specifically provided for by this clause.

(16) We shall now take up for consideration the contention of the learned counsel Mr. K.K. Venugopal, that even assuming that a grant of variation invalidated got revived by the amending Act, it can only be if the invalidation is by a judgment or order of any "Court" The word "Court" according to learned counsel means only a court of Justice. It is not disputed that if the word "Court" should be confined to what are ordinarily understood to be courts of Justice, in this case if can refer only to the High Court exercising jurisdiction under Art. 226 of the Constitution, Of course, it would include the Supreme Court, Learned counsel submits that the S.T.A.T. which invalidates the grant of variation in revision cannot be considered to be a court. It is only a quasi judicial Tribunal in the hierarchy or authorities provided under the Motor Vehicles Act. Learned counsel points out that sub-section (2) itself refers to appellate and revisional authorities, but it is for validating orders made by them. It is submitted that in the absence of any reference to a Tribunal in the non obstante clause only orders and judgments of courts strictly so could be held to be affected and not orders or Tribunals like the State Transport Appellate Tribunal. In our view, the word "Court" in the context in which it appears having in mind the intention of the Legislature must receive a liberal construction, a construction that would not defeat the object of the Act. The word "court" has in both popular language and in legislative practice received also a wider connotation and it will be in accord with sound canons of interpretation to give it the wider connotation it can stand, if, by so doing, the object of the amendment could be achieved in its full measure.

(17) In Craies Statute Law, 6th Edn at page 164, discussing the construction of ordinary and technical terms and the desirability of following as a general rule the obvious and popular meaning of the language, the expression "Court" also is referred to as one for which the popular sense has been adopted. The State Legislature under the Madras Court fees and Suits Valuation Act. 1955, defines "court" thus:

"Court means any civil, revenue or criminal court and includes a Tribunal or other authority having jurisdiction under any special or local law to decide questions affecting the rights parties".

Under the Madras Cultivating Tenants Protection Act, 1955, the Revenue Divisional Officer functioning under the Act can also be held to be a "court" under S. 3 of the Act. In Mahabaleswarappa v. Gopalaswami, ILR 58 Mad 954: (AIR 1935 Mad 673) considering whether an Election Commissioner was a "court" and a "civil court" within the meaning of Ss. 476 and 195 Cr. P.C. it is observed:

"There is thus clear authority for giving a wide construction to the expression 'civil court' under the selection of the Cr. P.C. now under reference..................."

In Raghoobuns Sahoy v. Kokil Singh, (1890) ILR 17 Cal 872 at p. 875 referring to the word "Court" in relation to S. 195 Cr. P.C. it is observed:

"It would include a tribunal empowered to deal with a particular matter and authorised to receive evidence bearing on that matter in order to enable it to arrive at a determination".

Mr. K.K. Venugopal drew our attention to the observations of Hidayatullah J in the differing judgment in Harinagar Sugar Mills Ltd. v. Shyam Sunder. . In discussing "Court" or "Tribunal" under Article 136 of the Constitution it is there stated:

"All Tribunals are not courts though of course all courts are tribunals".

Observing that the word "court" is not defined in the Companies Act, 1956 out of which the proceedings in that case arose or in the C.P. Code, and the definition in the Evidence Act is not exhaustive, the learned Judge refers to the meaning given in the New English Dictionary, Vol II, 1090 and 1091. The meaning given is:

"An assembly of Judges or other persons legally appointed and acting as a Tribunal to bear and determine any cause, civil, ecclesiastical, military and naval".

The learned Judge observes:

"By "Courts" is meant Courts of Civil Judicature and by 'tribunals' those bodies of men who are appointed to decide controversies arising under certain special laws".

and proceeding remark:

"Courts and Tribunals act 'judicially' in both senses, and in the term "court" are included the ordinary and permanent tribunals and in the term "tribunal are included all others, which are not so included".

So, in the term "Court" could be included the ordinary and permanent tribunals, if the context requires it. The question for consideration in the present case is whether the word "court" in S. 5(2) must be given only its generally accepted meaning and limited to courts of Civil Judicature, courts, strict senso, or should include a Tribunal like the S.T.A.T. It is needless to emphasis that the definition will vary according to the scope of the enactment and the setting of the word an limited for the purpose of the Act in which it occurs. One thing is clear, that the word "Court" need not necessarily and always be equated to Courts of Civil Judicature and it would not be an undue enlargement of the meaning of the word to include within it a statutorily constituted permanent Tribunal which is not just an administrative agency, if the context and intendment of the statue in consideration, warrants it. The State Transport Appellate Tribunal in this State is a purely appellate authority with some revisional jurisdiction and having no administrative functions under the Motor Vehicles Act. It is presided over by Judicial Officers of the rank of a District Judge and in the ordinary sense without violence to the language, the Tribunal may be called a "Court". The language of the non obstante clause in sub-section 5(2) ex facie takes a wide sweep; "any judgment or order of any court". The epithet "any" attaches to "judgment or order" and "court" in our opinion is designed to convey that if there are more senses than one in which the words can be understood, the more extensive of the meanings should be adopted. The purpose of the clause is to shield and protect the validity given under the enacting part of the sub-section. The enacting part seeks to validate the variations granted, be it by the original authority or a revisional or appellate authorities A variation granted might have been invalidated either in appeal or in revision by authorities under the Act or in proceedings under Art. 226 of the Constitution on the ground of want of jurisdiction of the R.T.A. In our view it is manifest that tall grants of variation that had got invalidated by any competent judicial authority on the ground of want of jurisdiction of the Regional Transport Authority are intended to be restored.

(18) Taking it as contended for the appellant that the order of the R.T.A. got merged in the order of rejection passed by the S.T.A.T. on revision still, as the S.T.A.T. can in the enactment be considered to be a court its decision also gets annulled. In the matter of validation of a grant we fail to see any reason for distinction between orders passed by this court on proceedings under Article 226 of the Constitution and orders made on revision by the S.T.A.T. If orders of superior courts could be annulled, we fail to see on what principle the orders of the S.T.A.T. should be given a finality in the matter.

(19) The learned counsel submitted that the order endorsing the variations on the permits has been made out without notice to the opposite party and is therefore opposed to the principles of natural justice. The point in this form does not appear to have been pressed before the learned Judge at the hearing of the writ petition, though it is noticed in the judgment itself that the order was admittedly passed without notice. In the affidavit in support of the application for the issue of a writ of certiorary no objection is taken to the order of the Regional Transport Authority dated 26-6-1964 as one passed without motive. It is not to be found in the five grounds A, B, C, D and E set out in paragraph 10 of the affidavit for invalidating the order nor is it elsewhere in the affidavit made a ground of complaint. It is state before us at the Bar that no notice is necessary when a grant made is endorsed on the permits. No doubt only such grants as had been invalidated on the ground of want of jurisdiction in the Regional Transport Authority got revived by the Amending Act. It is an admitted fact that in the present case the revisional authority set aside the grant only on the ground of want of jurisdiction. Whether from the order of the Regional Transport Authority reviving the grant the opposite party has any remedy by way of appeal or revision wherein he could agitate the grant on merits has not been the subject matter of any considered discussion before us. If the first respondent has any such remedy, he may avail himself of the same.

(20) We, however, like to record that after arguing the appeal at some length Sri K.K. Venugopal represented that his client would be satisfied if the matter was sent back to the R.T.A. to consider the objections on the merits of the application. The learned Advocate General appearing for the grantee of the variation took time to take instructions and on his expressing his client's consent to the course which was the subject of discussion on 1-11-1965 and on the previous day on 1-11-1965 we passed an order in the presence of counsel on both sides(Mr. V. Manivannan represents the first respondent) remanding the matter to the Regional Transport Authority as on consent of parties. We recorded in our order that for the purpose of the case it was conceded that S. 5 of Madras Act 3 of 1964 would apply to the case and that it was agreed that the order of remand would not interfere with the orders passed enabling the concerned parties to ply the vehicles on the varied routes, perhaps on temporary permits. Mr. K.K. Venugopal who was not present in person when the order was made in open court on 1-11-1965 subsequently represented that he had not made any concession as recorded and had not the authority of his client to make the concession. On this, as the learned Advocate General had no objection to a rehearing of the case and on consent of counsel the matter was reopened and further arguments heard. Apart from the fact that absence of notice had not been at earlier stages made a ground of attack, on the admitted fact that the grant of variation was set aside by the revisional authority merely on the ground of want of jurisdiction we fail to see how the absence of notice by the R.T.A. could prejudice the opposite party. The Regional Transport Authority had decided the case on the merits and all that remained for it to do was to order the grant on the permit a purely. Ministerial act. Whether the issue of the variation could be considered to be a fresh order, entitling the opposite party to approach a superior authority by way of revision or appeal, will be a matter for the opposing party to consider. In the present proceedings the merits of the grant of variation were not touched upon even, the only question mooted for decision being the scope of the Amending Act.

(21) In the view we have taken, the writ appeal has to be allowed and is hereby allowed. The rule nisi is discharged and the writ petition dismissed. The appellant will have his costs in the writ appeal. Advocate's fee Rs. 250.

(22) Appeal allowed.


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