1. The Regional Transport Authority preferred the revision petitioner for the grant on the ground that even though applicant No.5 Secured equal marks as applicant No.1 he has become a bus operator by getting permits on transfer recently and his performance has to be watched before any fresh permit can be granted. Aggrieved by this order, the matter was taken up by the respondent in appeal (AppNo. 231 of 1977) to the State Transport Appellate Tribunal. The Tribunal held that the workshop of the revision petitioner did not conform to Rule 155-A (2)(iv) of the Motor Vehicles Rules, and, therefore, it reduced two marks, as a result of which the marks of the revision petitioner came to 8. Under these circumstances, obviously having regard to the superiority of the marks and there being nothing to be said against respondent that it would not be in the public interest to make a grant in his favour, the grant in favour of the revision petitioner was set aside. and the respondent was favoured. Thus, the revision.
2. The learned counsel for the revision petitioner, Mr. V.P. Raman, urges the following points- (1) Rule 155-A (2)(iv) of the motor vehicles Rules in relation to the workshop merely lays down that the workshop must be of non-combustible material as nearly as practicable - That does not mean that even when workshop is resting on wooden rafters over which asbestos she is have been laid that would not conform to the requirements. There is no authoritative ruling on this aspect of the matter expecting an observation found in one of the judgments of this court in C.R.PNo.2646of 1979 M.Govindaswami V.D.Gnanaprakasam). As a matter of fact the earlier judgment of this Court in C.R.P.NO.446 OF 1975 (V.Raju V.M. Abdul Khader) takes a contrary view.
(2) Even under the petroleum Rules, what is stated with regard to the conditions of the licence is that beams. rafters, columns, doors and windows may be of wood. If such is the position with reference to a dealer in combustible material like petroleum, to say that the wooden rafters would be combustible is wrong.
(3). As both the revision petitioner and the respondent are new entrants, the insistence of such a qualification is improper, because in C.R.P. NO.446 OF 1975 (V. Raju V. M.Abdul Khader) this court took the view that for a new entrant in requirement in relation to a workshop cannot be insisted upon. If that principle had been adopted , the reduction of 2 marks is wrong, and on the same basis, the 2 marks in favour of the respondent also should not have been on awarded, in which even there would be equality of marks , and therefore, the preference of the respondent should have been on a ground other than this.
3. I am not able to accept any one of the above arguments as tenable. R.151-A(2) (iv) of the motor vehicles rules in relation to workshop, lays down as follows. :
'The workshop shall be housed in a pucca building sufficiently spacious and with roofing of corrugated Zinc sheets or asbestos , making them as nearly fire proof as practicable and should have inspection ramp.'
4. My reading of the Rule when it says ' as nearly fire proof as practicable' is that it does not mean that one can insist upon fire proof of exaction. But it is common knowledge that wooden rafters are combustible especially in a place like this where one is bound to carry out repairs on the top of the bus with welding.
5. With regard to the wooden poles there are a number of judgements of this court. However, when this position was argued in C.R.P.No. 2646 of 1979 (M.Govindaswami V.D. Gnanaprakasam) What I observed was-
' As regards the workshop my interpretation must be with reference to the object of the rule , the object of the rule being that a workshop should be housed in a pucca building making it as fire proof as possible. In other words, it should not be exposed easily to fire hazards. I am unable to hold that any distinction could be made between a workshop housed on a wooden pole and a workshop consisting of wooden rafters. Anyhow I leave this question to be decided in appropriate proceedings because that is not a ground on which the Tribunal chose to set aside the permit. On the contrary, it found that the superior qualifications of the respondent would outweigh the claim of the revision petitioner.'
The remit in that case became necessary because that point had not been gone into by the Tribunal then. In the case on hand, this point had been gone into and the Tribunal has taken the view that it does not conform to the requirement since the wooden rafters are combustible in nature. I am of the view that the distinction that is sought to be made between a workshop housed on a wooden pole and a workshop consisting of wooden rafters is a distinction without difference because both are easily combustible. I am unable to take a view different from the one I have taken earlier as seen in the extract above.
6. The condition of the petroleum Rules 1976, relating to the licence is stated thus-
' The petroleum shall be stored in the licensed storage shed which shall be constructed of suitable non-combustible material, but the beams, rafters, columns, doors and windows may be of wood.'
The court is concerned with the interpretation of the rule, and not the wisdoms or the policy of incorporating the same in the Motor Vehicles Rules. Therefore , I am unable to see any relevance of this rule to decide the matter in issue.
7. It is true that Ramanujam, J.has observed in C.R.P.No. 446 of 1975(V.Raju v.M.Abdul Khader) as follows-
'The learned counsel for the petitioner submits that to get 2 marks the workshop would be such as not susceptible to catch fire and that the respondent's workshop is not one such. But this requirement applies only to a workshop of a fleet operator who is owning more than 5 buses and persons operating less than five buses cannot be required to have a workshop built with uninflammable materials. In this case both the authorities below have proceeded on the basis that the respondent's workshop was with uninflammable materials and it is only on that basis two marks have been granted to the respondent. I am of the view that the award of two marks to the respondent under the head 'workshop cannot be challenged.'
8. Here, both the revision petitioner and the respondent state their claims basing on the ownership of the workshops. Under these circumstances, the Regional Transport Authority as well as the Tribunal are well entitled to consider whether marks have to be awarded on the basis of their claims. But once it is found that the workshop of the petitioner does not conform to the requirement of the Rule. Certainly, it warrants reduction. Even otherwise, supposing no marks have been awarded for the workshop so far as the respondent is concerned. What happens is that there would have been an equality of the marks and in such a case, the claim of the respondent could easily unheld in view of the fact that he has got a workshop which conforms to the requirements under Rule 155-A (2) (iv) of the Motor Vehicles Rules. For all these reasons, I see no merit in this revision petition.
9. The civil revision petition is dismissed. There will be no order as to costs. The status quo as on today will be maintained for two weeks from this date.
10. Petition dismissed.