T. Venakatadri, J.
1. The short and simple question that arises for consideration in this writ petition is whether the Regional Transport Authority, Ramanathapuram, should consider the application filed by the petitioner for extension of route and the application for additional trips filed by the first respondent together or preference should be given to the petitioner's application for extension of route in the matter of hearing and final disposal.
2. The petitioner is a fleet-owner and is running one of his buses from Vrudhunagar to Mandapasalai, a distance of 23 miles. The first respondent is another fleet-owner who is running one of his buses on the route Virudhunagar to Mudukalathur, a distance of 50 miles; and another bus from Aruppukottai to Mudukalathur, a distance of 47 miles. On these routes, there are two important places, Neeravi and Kamudhi, where there is a long felt need for transport facilities to the villagers of the two places. In order to satisfy the need of these villagers, the Regional Transport Authority, by his memo. No. 12070-B2/65 dated 29th April, 1965, requested the operators who were running their buses on the route to apply for variation of the route before roth May, 1965. It is in pursuance of this memo, the petitioner applied for extension of his route namely from Virudhunagar to Kamudhi touching Neeravi.
2. Immediately, the first respondent filed a writ petition (W.P. No. 2954 of 1965) to restrain the Regional Transport Authority from considering the application of the petitioner for extension of route, on the ground that a portion of the sector sought to be extended overlapped the routes operated by the buses of the Madras State Transport Department. Though that writ petition was dismissed by this Court, the first respondent has carried the matter to the Supreme Court. In the meantime, the Regional Transport Authority, by his letter dated 16th September, 1965 (C. No. 33575/B2/65), requested, the first respondent to apply for additional trips or for variation in respect of particular buses of his. The purpose mentioned was that the grant of additional trips or variation would not only be advantageous to the permit-holder but would also provide additional transport facilities to the public who complained about lack of adequate facilities in those areas. Therefore, in pursuance of that memo, the first respondent applied for additional singles for buses MDR 3146 (since replaced by MDR 4106) and MDR., 3,836 (since replaced by MDR. 3146). The grant of additional trips was considered, because it was noticed by the Regional Transport Authority that the first respondent was then running a low mileage of 140 and 170 miles per day in respect of these two buses; and further first respondent was finding it difficult to run them efficiently, in view of the rising cost of operation and high taxation. The petitioner, in his turn, is now adopting obstructive tactics for consideration of that application of the first respondent by the Regional Transport Authority. The petitioner has complained that, if the application of the first respondent for grant of additional trips is allowed, not only his business would be affected but also the consideration of his application would be prejudiced. Thus, these two rival fleet-owners are vying with each other and are resorting not only to obstructive tactics to restrain the Regional Transport Authority from considering each other's application but are also thwarting the attempt of the Regional Transport Authority to give adequate transport facilities to the public of the locality wherein the route lies. The Regional Transport Authority fixed 15th July, 1967 for consideration of the first respondent's application for grant of additional trips. It is at this stage the petitioner has rushed to this Court and filed the present writ petition, for the issue of a writ of mandamus, directing the Regional Transport Authority, Ramanathapuram, not to consider or grant additional trips to the first respondent and in any event defer the consideration of that application till the petitioner's application for extension of route is also taken up for consideration.
3. The question for consideration, therefore, is, as I said, whether the petitioner can insist on the Regional Transport Authority taking up both the applications for joint consideration and disposal.
4. There are now two applications for consideration before the Regional Transport Authority; Ramanathapuram. The petitioner's application is for extension of route. The first respondent's application is for additional trips on the existing route. The contention of learned Counsel for the petitioner is that these two applications; should be considered together or at least his application for extension of route should be taken up first for consideration. He, however, contends that it is just and necessary to decide these two applications together, because if one application is taken up for disposal without taking into consideration the other application, there would not be any hearing of his right and there will be denial of hearing of his case. He wants me to apply the doctrine of mutually exclusive as stated by Parker in his book on administrative Law at page 329:.actions involving common questions of fact or law may be consolidated in the discretion of the Court.... At times a consolidation will be essential in the interest of justice....
He states that the grant of permit on one application would be denial of natural justice and the other application would become an empty thing.
5. No doubt the theory advanced by learned Counsel for the petitioner seems to be an attractive one. But on hearing the arguments of learned Counsel for the first respondent, Sri V.K.T. Chari, I am afraid that the doctrine of 'mutually exclusive' could not be applied to the proceedings before me. It is common case that the petitioner's application is for extension of route and the first respondent's application is for grant of additional trips. There is, therefore, nothing in common between them. The petitioner is a permit-holder for the route Virudhunagar to Mandapasalai. He filed an application for extension of route upto Kamudhi. It has now been held that, if the Regional Transport Authority decides to grant extension of route, it should be deemed in law to be a new route. Other operators can also apply for this route, when the Regional Transport Authority decides to extend the route from Virudhunagar to Kamudhi. Thus, if and when the Regional Transport Authority decides to take up for Consideration the application of the petitioner for extension of route, he should also take into consideration the applications of other operators who seek permits for this new route. Dealing with this doctrine, a Division Bench of this Court has observed in W.A. Nos. 265 and 266 of 1965:.this Court took the View that both the application for an extension simpliciter by a pre-existing operator on a particular route, and an application by another party for the entire extended route, should, an fairness and propriety, be considered together by the Regional Transport Authority, so that all relevant objections and claims and counter-claims could be heard and determined together.
This principle has also been laid down in the case, of Ashbacher Radio Corporation v. Federal Communications Commission 90 Kawters Edutuib 108 at 111, Lawyers Edition 108 at 111, where the Supreme Court of the United States observed:
We do not think it is enough to say that the power of the Commission to issue a license on a finding of public interest, convenience or necessity supports its grant of one of two mutually exclusive applications without a hearing of the other. For if the grant of one effectively precludes the other, the statutory right of a hearing which Congress has accorded applicants before denial of their applications become an empty thing.
This theory was also adopted by another Court in the United States in North West Airlines v. Cab 90 U.S. App. D.C. 158. The principle therefore seems to be that, where there is a common question of fact and law, all the applications should, be consolidated and jointly heard and disposed of.
6. But we have to consider whether that theory would be applicable to the facts of this case. I am of opinion that when considering an application for extension of route and an application for grant of additional trips on a route granted to the operator, this theory would not apply. In this case, the Regional Transport Authority invited the first respondent to apply for additional trips to provide for adequate transport facilities to the public, who were complaining about lack of the same. From the operator's point of view, the grant of additional trips on the existing route would enable him to run the bus efficiently in view of the rising costs of operation and high taxation. Such an application for grant of additional trips is neither inter-connected nor intertwined nor interlaced with an application for extension of route. The petitioner cannot, therefore, insist on the Regional Transport Authority taking up both the applications together for consideration and disposal. Nor can he insist on the Authority taking up his application first for disposal. The Regional Transport Authority is directed to dispose of the application of the first respondent for grant of additional trips and the application of the petitioner for extension of route separately and, independently, and unconnected with each other. Of course, it is left to the Regional Transport Authority's discretion, as to which application he should take up first for consideration.
7. In the result, the writ petition is dismissed. But there will be no order as to costs.