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Anjaneya Motor Transport by Partner, S. Srinivasan Vs. State of Madras - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectMotor Vehicles
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Case NumberWrit Appeal Nos. 3 and 4 of 1955
Judge
Reported inAIR1955Mad660; (1955)2MLJ376
ActsMotor Vehicles Act, 1939 - Sections 57, 57(3), 57(4) and 64A
AppellantAnjaneya Motor Transport by Partner, S. Srinivasan
RespondentState of Madras
Appellant AdvocateT.M. Krishnaswami Aiyar, ;B.V. Viswanatha Aiyar and ;T. Raghavan, Advs.
Respondent AdvocateSpecial Govt. Pleader, ;K. Bhashyam and ;T.R. Srinivasan, Advs.
DispositionAppeal dismissed
Cases ReferredPankaj Kumar v. Commissioner
Excerpt:
- - (2) even if the government had jurisdiction to interfere with the order of the central road traffic board, the exercise of that jurisdiction was vitiated by the failure of the government to give notice to the petitioners (appellants here) before they passed an order which affected them adversely. 10. the appeals fail and are dismissed with costs in one......central road traffic board showed that the appellants had objected to the variation, though out of time, the government had knowledge of their interests and that in these circumstances the order passed by the government was vitiated as contravening the principles of natural justice. we are however unable to appreciate this argument because the knowledge of the revisional or appellate authority as to the existence of a person whose rights may be affected has really no bearing upon the right of such person to notice. one thing is clear, that if a person is entitled to notice because he has become so to speak statutory a party to the proceeding by filing representation within the time limited by section 57 (3) he is entitled to notice and hearing whether the government have knowledge of his.....
Judgment:

Rajagopala Ayyangar, J.

1. These are appeals from the judgment of Rajagopalan J. dismissing the applications by the two appellants for the issue of a writ of certiorari to quash an order of the Government setting aside the order of the Transport authority under the provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act.

2. The second respondent in both the appeals, _ N.S. Motor Service, Salem, had permits for two puses' on the route Hosur to Salem. This operator applied on 11-3-1953 for the variation of the conditions of the permits for these two buses to enable them to he run beyond Salem upto Perundurai. The appellants before us are also operators running their buses in the route from Salem to Perundurai. This application for variation was dealt with by the Central Road Traffic Board, and under Rule 208 (b) of the rules framed under the Motor Vehicles Act, the procedure applicable to an application for permit is prescribed for applications for variations also. The Board accordingly issued a notification under Section 57 (3) of the Act on 31-10-1953 allowing time till 20-11-1953 for the filing of any representations to be considered by them. No representations in writing satisfying the requirements of Section 57 (3) of the Act were received by the Central Road Traffic Board within the time limited. The appellants however submitted representations out of time. But as under Section 57 (4) these could not be considered by the Central Road Traffic Board the application for variation was treated as unopposed. The Assistant Secretary of the Central Road Traffic Board who hadauthority delegated to him under the rules framed under the Motor Vehicles Act considered the second respondent's application and passed an order rejecting the variation applied for. The second respondent thereupon filed an appeal to the Government and the latter by their order dated 18-10-1954 set aside the order of the Central Goad Traffic Board and granted the variation sought. The two appellants thereupon filed petitions under Art, 226 of the Constitution (W. P. Nos. 720 and 721 of 1954) for the issue of a writ of certiorari to quash the order of the Government granting the variation to the N.S. Motor Services, Salem.

3. The grounds upon which the order of the Government was challenged before the learned Judge were twofold : (1) The Government had no jurisdiction 'to entertain the appeal by the second respondent because under the Motor Vehicles Act no appeal lay against an order rejecting an application for variation of the conditions of permit. (2) Even if the Government had jurisdiction to interfere with the order of the Central Road Traffic Board, the exercise of that jurisdiction was vitiated by the failure of the Government to give notice to the petitioners (appellants here) before they passed an order which affected them adversely. The learned Judge proceeded upon the footing that no appeal lay to the Government but as it was admitted that the Government had revisional jurisdiction under Section 64 (A) of the Motor Vehicles Act, there was no insuperable objection in sustaining the validity of the order passed by the Government. The learned Judge also held that as the petitioners before him had not Bled representations in time, they had no right to be heard by the Government and that consequently there was no violation of the principles of natural justice in not issuing notice to them before interfering .with the order of the Central Road Traffic Board. On this reasoning, the learned Judge dismissed the two writ petitions.

4. Mr. T.M. Krishnaswami Aiyar, learned counsel for the appellants, urged that the decision of the learned Judge . was wrong on both 'the points. We shall deal with the two points separately. The first was that the appellants were persons who would be adversely affected by any order for variation in favour of respondent 2 and that the principles of natural justice required that notice should be given to them, before an order passed in their favour by the Central Road Traffic Board was interfered with. There is no dispute that the Central Road Traffic Board observed the proper procedure in dealing with the application for variation. The notification was published under Section 57 (3) which runs in these terms :

'57 (3) On receipt of an application for a stagecarriage permit or a public carrier's permit, theRegional Transport Authority shall make the application available for inspection at the office of theauthority and shall publish the application or thesubstance thereof in the prescribed manner togetherwith a notice of the date before which representations in connection therewith may be submitted andthe date, not being less than thirty days from suchpublication, on which, and the time and place atwhich, the application and any representations received will be considered.'The date within which representations by objectorswould be considered was fixed as 20-11-1953, and itis admitted that the appellants did not file any objections or make any representations within that date.Section 57 (4) deals with the cases where no suchrepresentations have been received. It runs thus :

'57 (4) : No representation in connection with an application referred to in Sub-section (3) shall be considered by the Regional Transport Authority unless it is made in writing before the appointed date and unless a Copy thereof is furnished simultaneously tothe applicant by the person making such representation,'

The argument is that on the language of Section 57 (4) the disability of having representations or objections being considered is confined to the original authority but that when any appeal or revision is filed from the order of the authority acting under Section 57 (3), the inhibition imposed by Section 57 (4) does not apply and that persons, who would be adversely affected by any order in appeal or revision, have a right to be heard as to why the order passed by the original authority should not be confirmed. In this connection reliance is placed on the decision of a Bench of this Court in -- Nadar Transports v. State of Madras', : AIR1953Mad1 (A), consisting of Satyanarayana Rao and Hajagopalan JJ.; The following observations of Satyanarayanu Rao J. who delivered the judgment of the Bench at page 3 are particularly relied upon :

'The restriction in Section 57 (4) that no representations should be considered by the Regional Transport Authority is confined in our opinion to the hearing before the Regional Transport Authority, and it does not extend to the appellate authority.'

From this it is argued that the appellants should be treated as parties to whom notice ought to have been issued and that any order passed without notice to them would be vitiated as contravening the principle of audi alteram partem. The learned Judge in the judgment under appeal has explained this decision to which he was himself a party and we agree with him in his construction of this passage as not supporting the contention of the appellants. The learned Judges in that case were interpreting the provisions of Section 64 (f), Motor Vehicles Act and they held that a person who had not filed any representations within the time limited under Section 57 (3) before the original authority could still be treated as a person opposing the grant of a permit entitled to file an appeal under Section 64 (f) of the Act. In the present case we are not concerned with such a situation. It will be time enough to consider when the point does arise, whether Section 64 (f) was really intended to vary the effect of Section 57 (4) in regard to appeals or whether it had reference to the persons and authorities referred to in Section 50 of the Act.

5. In this connection learned counsel for the appellants urged the analogy of proceedings in civil cases where even though a party is ex parte at the trial but the judgment or decree is in his favour, notice has to be issued to him by an appellate or revisional Court before such judgment or decree is vacated or interfered with to his prejudice. In our opinion, the entire argument of the learned counsel proceeds on a misapprehension of the nature of the proceedings under the Motor Vehicles Act. There is here no lis between the parties so that in a sense there are no parties at all except the applicant. The Transport authority has to consider whether in the public interest the application that is made to it could be granted or not. There might be other persons providing transport facilities in such an area who might be adversely affected by such an order and who are entitled to make representations that in public interest the application need not or should not, be granted. Section 57 (3) makes provision for the interested public being notified and Section 57 (4) provides the limitations. If an operator or a person interested does not take steps in time, he has no right to be heard before orders are passed and that is the effect of Section 57 (4). But merely because a person files a representation out of time, he does not become in any sense a party to the proceeding. When an appeal or a revision is filed though there is no statutory provision in that regard the principles or natural justice require that notice should be given to those who were parties to the proceedings. But it is contended by Mr. Krishnaswami Aiyar, learned counsel for theappellants that such a notice should be given not merely to those who in a sense have made themselves parties to the proceedings by filing representations within the time limited by Section 57 (3) but to all those would be adversely affected by the order. To a question by us, as to whether if this view were accepted, any logical distinction could be drawn between persons who had filed objections out of time and other parties who though equally interested had not filed any representations, as regards the necessity for notice and hearing, Mr. Krishnaswami Aiyar stated that no such distinction could be drawn. According to him it was the duty of the appellate or revisional authority to make an enquiry as to the persons likely to be affected by any order which they might puss and deal with the appeal or revision before it after notice to and hearing such parties. In other words, the argument is that the duty cast upon the appellate or revisional authority is more extensive than even that laid down by Section 57 (3). In his attempt to circumscribe the scope of Section 57 (4) to the original authority, learned counsel is really attempting to enact provision similar to Section 57 (3) at each stage of an appeal or a revision which is certainly not warranted by any rule of construction.

6. The next contention of learned counsel for the appellants was that even if there was no obligation upon the Government to issue notice and hear all parties who might be adversely affected, there was an obligation to notify and hear those who to their knowledge would be adversely affected by their order and that as, in the present case, the very order of the Central Road Traffic Board showed that the appellants had objected to the variation, though out of time, the Government had knowledge of their interests and that in these circumstances the order passed by the Government was vitiated as contravening the principles of natural justice. We are however unable to appreciate this argument because the knowledge of the revisional or appellate authority as to the existence of a person whose rights may be affected has really no bearing upon the right of such person to notice. One thing is clear, that if a person is entitled to notice because he has become so to speak statutory a party to the proceeding by filing representation within the time limited by Section 57 (3) he is entitled to notice and hearing whether the Government have knowledge of his existence or not. It, therefore, logically follows that the knowledge of the appellate or revisional authority does not determine the right of party to notice or hearing but that the latter condition is really dependent upon whether he is a party to the proceeding who would be adversely affected by the order.

7. In this connection reliance is placed upon the decision in Pankaj Kumar v. Commissioner, Burdwan Division, : AIR1953Cal587 (B) and of an un-reported decision of a Bench of this Court holding that though the Motor Vehicles Act does not in terms provide for the issue of a notice and hearing by an appellate or revisional authority, the principles of natural justice require this and that in their absence an order passed by it would be quashed. But these decisions do not really bear upon the question as to whether the appellants are the persons who are entitled to the notice under the Motor Vehicles Act.

8. We have, therefore, no hesitation in rejecting the contention that the order of the Government is vitiated for want of notice to the appellants. (9) The other contention that was urged was . that no appeal lay to the Government against the order of the Central Road Traffic Board passed through its Secretary refusing the variation, and that the order of the Government did not disclose that their revisional jurisdiction was invoked or that they intended to exercise such revisional powers. We do not consider that there is much substance in this objectionbecause if the authority had the power to pass the order such an order could not be held to be vatiated by the caption given to it.

10. The appeals fail and are dismissed with costs in one. Advocate's fee Rs. 100.


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