1. This appeal involves interpretation of the scope of jurisdiction of the Railway Rates Tribunal under Section 41(3) of the Indian Railways Act, 1890. A complaint was filed before the Tribunal on 21st May, 1965, which was disposed of by it on 20th July, 1968, revising the maintenance charges in respect of siding from the date of the complaint, and the siding charges were fixed at Rs. 38 with effect from the same date and Rs. 42 from 10th April, 1967, on a certain view of increase in the railway rates. The appeal has been filed before us on the strength of U.D.S. Mills v. S.S.L. Railway : 2SCR333 , as was the case in the writ petition.
2. Section 41 (1) says that any complaint that a railway administration is levying a charge which is unreasonable., may be -made to the Tribunal. The Tribunal shall hear and decide any such complaint in accordance with the provisions contained in Chapter V of the Act. Sub-section (3) of that section is:
In the case of a complaint under Clause (b) or Clause (c) of Sub-section (1), the Tribunal may fix such rate or charge as it considers reasonable.
3. We are not concerned with the proviso. The contention is that the Tribunal's power under this provision is only to fix a rate which will have future operation and, that being the case, the rate allowed by the Tribunal with effect from the date anterior to the date of the decision would be in excess of its jurisdiction. We are unable to agree with this contention. The words 'the Tribunal may fix such rate or charge ' are designed to vest jurisdiction in the Tribunal to fix the rate or charge. These words are not to be read as clamping any limitation upon the jurisdiction to fix a rate or charge with anterior effect. Once the Us starts by a complaint, the Tribunal is in seizin of jurisdiction to deal with it and, in disposing it of, the same jurisdiction is exercised which enables it to receive the Us for decision. That being so, in any case its jurisdiction will extend to fix the rate or charge from the date of filing of the Us or complaint. This view is in conformity also with the earlier decisions of this Court in Southern Railway v. Railway Rate Tribunal : AIR1955Mad476 , Shree Bajrang Jute Mill-Ltd. in re (1961) 2 M.L.J. 363 and Hindustan Materials v. Railway Rates Tribunal : (1957)2MLJ363 .
4. The question which the Supreme Court had to decide in U.D.S. Mills v. S.S.L. Railway was whether, when charges had been paid by a party to the railways, the Tribunal had jurisdiction to order refund. The Court held that, having regard to the language of Section 41 (1), which is the yardstick to determine the width of the jurisdiction of the Tribunal under Section 39, the Tribunal had no power to direct refund : That view is understandable, because nowhere. in Section 41 has the jurisdiction been vested in the Tribunal to make such a direction to refund. That being so, the decision relied on by the appellant does not support the contention that the Tribunal has no power under Section 43 (1) to fix the rate or charge with effect from the date of filing of the complaint.
5. The appeal is dismissed with costs. Counsel's fee Rs. 100.