1. The first respondent sought for a variation of their existing permit from Vellakoil to Erode, by extending the same from Erode to Malayampalayam. The Regional Transport Authority was of the view that as a part of this sector was already notified Under Section 47 (3) of the Motor Vehicles Act, to be constituted: as a town route, it felt that there was no necessity to grant the variation asked for by the first respondent. On appeal by the first respondent, the State Trnasport Appellate Tribunal finally allowed the variation. The matter was taken to this Court and in Writ Petition No. 3546 of 1968, Alagiriswami, J. set aside the order of the Appellate Tribunal observing as follows:
It is stated that the distance between Karumandampalayam and Malayampalayam is only six furlongs. As rightly contended by the learned Counsel for the petitioner, if the Tribunal had taken note of this fact and still considered that there was room for the variation asked for by the first respondent being: granted, its order may be justifiable one. But, when if it is found that the order of the Tribunal has been passed ignoring the fact of a proposal set afort which was to be considered on 28th August, 1968, the order obviously suffers from an error apparent on the face of the record.
The first respondent preferred Writ Appeal No. 174 of 1969, and a Division Bench of this Court dismissed the writ appeal, but however remanded the matter to the State-Transport Appellate Tribunal for a reapprisal on merits. The State Transport Appellate Tribunal once again, by the-impugned order, allowed the variation. It observed that the respondent was running on an uneconomic route, that the total mileage covered by one of its buses is only 197-2 miles, that the variation would only bring the length of the route within the sanctioned limit of a later Government Order and that the variation would be in the interest of the public. It also said that the application for extension is for the mofussil bus which has certain distinct advantages such as the carrying of luggage, whereas a town bus usually cannot do so. The third and the most important reason was that the additional facility by granting the extension would solve the problem of the villagers in between Erode and Malayampalayam and that the town route sanctioned for a part of the sector in the course of the proceedings may not be the only solution. It is against this order of the Tribunal, the present writ petition has been filed.
2. The first contention of Mr. Chengalvarayan, the learned Counsel for the petitioner, is that the mileage rule prescribed by the Government by one of its orders cannot be taken into consideration at all and that having been so considered the order is vitiated. Reliance was sought on the ratio of the famous case in the Motor Vehicles Jurisprudence viz., B. Rajagopala Naidu v. The State Transport Appellate Tribunal and : 7SCR1 . But, Section 43-A (1) is a direct answer to this contention. It is not all directions or orders of the Government which are to be ignored by the statutory functionaries. As a matter of fact, if the directions given by the Government at any point of time are to substitute the judgment of the statutory functionary to that of the Government, then only it would infringe upon the general principles of law and such a direction would be illegal and void. In the case under consideration, the direction given by the Government was that a single bus can operate on a 250-mile-route instead of that of 197-.2 miles, as presumably it was found that the latter operation was not economic. The rule is made in exercise of the powers of the Government Under Section 43-A (1) and cannot be said to be a direction which would impel the statutory functionary to ignore its individual judgment in that matter. I am, therefore, unable to hold that the first reason of the State Transport Appellate Tribunal that as the variation would make an uneconomic route into an economic one, ought to be accepted not only for its own sake but also in the interest of the public.
3. The second contention of the learned Counsel is that the Appellate Tribunal found that the variation, if granted, would afford a distinct advantage to the traveling public in the matter of carrying luggage and that this finding is not well founded and supported my material. A matter like the carrying of luggage in a mofussil route as against a town route and the way in which such luggages are allowed to be carried can be taken judicial notice of. Even apart from the sections which speak of a limitation in the matter of the carrying of a luggage in a town route or in the mofussil route for the matter of that, it cannot be said that in a mofussil route, luggages are allowed as a matter of course without being charged. There is provision for such charges being levied Under Section 48 of the Act. The point however, is that in mofussil route, luggages are invariably allowed along with the passengers as it is a long-distance route and in a town route such privileges are curtailed to a great extent, if not prohibited. It was this fact, which may not be ordinarily disputed, that was taken note of by the Appellate Tribunal when it said that the extension of the mofussil bus has certain distinct advantages such as the carrying of the luggages whereas a town bus has not. Mr. Chengalvarayan, however, pressed into service the definition of 'goods' and Sections 42 and 48, to subserve his contention that even in town buses luggages could be taken and there being no prohibition but a regulation, this aspect cannot be viewed by the Tribunal as if it was an advantage or a disadvantage, as the case may be. I am unable to agree. 'Luggage' is defined as the ' traveller's baggage, boxes etc' It is not uncommon to find that the luggage in a mofussil bus, which covers a distance of about 250 miles, is certainly more than the luggage that is ordinarily thought of to be carried in a town bus. I agree with the Appellate Tribunal that notwithstanding the presence of a town bus between Erode and Karumandampalayam, the variation would be necessary in the interest of the public, for they would have the advantage of carrying luggages in the real sense, in the extended route.
4. As I already stated, the third finding rendered by the Tribunal is well-founded and indeed unassailable, in a proceeding under Article (SIC). The Tribunal, finds that the additional facilities which have been afforded by opening a town service upto Karumandampalayam, which falls short by one male upto Malayampalayam terminal, would not entirely solve the problems of the villagers in between Erode and Malayampalayam. In short he finds that public interest and need require that the variation should be granted. It is for the Appellate Tribunal to say so and not for this Court to review the factual finding under Article 226 of the Constitution.
5. The last contention is that the Tribunal failed to take into consideration an additional ground which is said to have been pressed by the petitioner before the Appellate Tribunal. This concerns with the permit which enabled the petitioner to run a motor vehicle between Erode and Kodumudi, which is a 60-miles route; but which practically touched the sector in question. In view of the fact that the petitioner was already serving the entire sector covering the variation, it is contended that no variation should be granted obviously on the ground of prejudice to the petitioner. This argument rests more on commercial considerations rather than on public interest. If there is more than one bus to subserve a part of a sector of a larger route and if it could serve the need of the villagers and the travelling public, then it does not matter at all and in my view that cannot be a ground for ignoring public interest so as to yield to commercial interests. Even otherwise, if the Tribunal did not consider this argument, the force of the order ought not to ail by reason of such an omission. The Supreme Court said so in Sri Rana Vilas Services (P.) Ltd. v. Chandrasekaran and Ors. : 5SCR869 at page 110, the Supreme Court said:
We think it is improper for the High Court to issue a writ of certiorari mainly or solely on the ground that all reasons have not been set out in the judgment of the appropriate authority.
6. I am satisfied that on an overall reading of the order, the variation was granted in public interest and as public interest is the acid test to find out whether variation or a permit or an extension thereof is necessary, and as the Tribunal, competent to find on the matter, expressed the view that it was so and the variation was necessary to observe a public need, I am unable to interfere in my discretion under Article 226 of the Constitution.
7. The rule nisi is discharged. The Writ petition is dismissed. No order as to costs.