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Paramakudi Bus Transports (P.) Ltd. Vs. the Regional Transport Authority and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectMotor Vehicles
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Reported in(1969)2MLJ370
AppellantParamakudi Bus Transports (P.) Ltd.
RespondentThe Regional Transport Authority and ors.
Cases ReferredRajagopala Naidu v. The State Transport Appellate Tribunal
Excerpt:
- .....both under section 47 (3), and with regard to the grant of the permit itself, before the permit granted by the regional transport authority, ramanathapuram, for the entire route could be accepted as a valid one. but, we do not think that the argument is. sound that both the authorities should simultaneously proceed under section 47 (3)., and come to the same conclusion, before the authority who can initiate the proceedings under section 45, can take the matter up further, and grant the permits certainly, there may be cases in which both authorities, after consultation or correspondence, do take up the matter under section 47 (3), and both first arrive at the conclusion that the route itself is necessary in the public interest. since it has recently been clarified by the supreme.....
Judgment:

M. Anantanarayanan, C.J.

1. These related Writ Appeals involve a question of some interest and importance, with regard to certain provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act, and the respective spheres of function of the concerned quasi-judicial Authorities, where the grant of a permit applies to what is termed as an inter-district route. In Writ Petition No. 765 of 1966, the appellant in both these appeals, viz., Paramakudi Bus Transports (Private) Limited, sought the issue of a Writ of Prohibition, restraining the Regional Transport Authority, Ramanathapuram, from proceeding with the grant of a stage carriage permit on the route Mudukolathur to Vembar, which is an inter-district route. In Writ Petition No. 764 of 1966, the same appellant sought the issue of a writ of certiorari, striking down certain proceedings of the Transport Commissioner in R. No. 25676/E-2/65, dated 19th August, 1965, by which, that Authority (Transport Commissioner) purported to settle a dispute between the two Regional Transport Authorities, by virtue of his jurisdiction under Section 44 (3) (c) of the Act.

2. The essential facts can be very simply set forth as follows.

3. This inter-district route, viz., Mudukolathur to Vembar, covers a distance of 36 miles 7 furlongs, of which more than 24 miles is within the jurisdiction of the Regional Transport Authority, Ramanathapuram. Only a small distance of about 2 miles is within the jurisdiction of the Regional Transport Authority, Tirunelveli. At this stage itself, we may make it clear that, where the facts are of that description, tinder Section 45 of the Act, the application for a permit is to be made to the Regional Transport Authority, Ramanathapuram, the region in which a major portion of the proposed route lies, and it is that Authority which should ordinarily initiate proposal's for the opening of the inter-district route. In the present case also, the Regional Transport Authority, Ramanathapuram, initiated the proposal, and held under Section 47 (3), that the opening of such a route was in the public interest. The proposal was approved, and, as far as we can follow the facts, the Regional Transport Authority, Ramanathapuram, appears to have attempted to obtain the concurrence or consent of the Regional Transport Authority, Tirunelveli, on an administrative level. Obviously, he thought that he should do this, before he finally granted the permit, so that the statutory concurrence of the other Authority (Regional Transport Authority, Tirunelveli), which is necessary under Section 63 (1) of the Act, may be later procured without difficulty.

4. Unfortunately, the Regional Transport Authority, Tirunelveli, was not inclined to accept the view that this route was essential in the public interest, and at the administrative level, concurrence was declined. This led to a dispute between the two Authorities, and it is this dispute which was sought to be resolved by the Transport Commissioner, by virtue of the proceeding already referred to. After stating the facts, the Transport Commissioner came to the conclusion that the opening of the new route was essential in the public interest, and he directed the route to be accordingly opened.

5. Writ Appeal No. 211 of 1966 relates to this matter, and it is contended that, after Rajagopala Naidu v. The State Transport Appellate Tribunal : [1964]7SCR1 , and several of our own Judgments, such as our Judgments in W.A. Nos. 366 and 369 of 1964, such a direction given by an administrative Authority to a quasi-judicial Tribunal, is indefensible in law, and will have to be struck down.

6. We shall now proceed to scrutinise the subsequent developments. It appears that the present petitioner had an opportunity to claim before the Regional Transport Authority, Tirunelveli, that the route ought not to be opened, and that it was not necessary, in the public interest; certainly, as the present appellant is an objector who contends that he would be affected by the opening of the new route, he had a right to be heard, and he was heard. But, we are not at all clear from the record, as it stands, that this was a proceeding formally under Section 47 (3) of the Act, 01 that the Regional Transport Authority, Tirunelveli, gave any finding under Section 47 (3), exercising the statutory power. On the contrary, the record appears to indicate that he intimated his opinion at the administrative level to the Regional Transport Authority, Ramanathapuram, that he did not agree to the proposal for the new route. This is of some importance, with regard to one of the grounds urged by learned Counsel for the Writ Appellant, which we shall subsequently refer to.

7. The ground on which the Writ of Prohibition was sought, is clear. It is, simply stated, the objection that the Regional Transport Authority, Ramanathapuram has no jurisdiction to take up the question of the inter-district route any further, as the Regional Transport Authority, Tirunelveli, has not given his concurrence either to the opening of the new route under Section 47 (3), or to the grant of a permit to any one. But, in this form, the objection is clearly not an objection to jurisdiction, and it is unsustainable on several grounds. Firstly, it appears that the present appellant himself was a claimant for this inter-district permit before the Regional Transport Authority, Ramanathapuram, Far from objecting to the opening of the now route under Section 47 (3), he failed to object, as the learned Judge explicitly observes, and he prayed that the permit might be granted to him. Secondly, while the Regional Transport Authority, Tiruvelveli, might have expressed a view, at the administrative level, some time in the past, that he did not think that this new route was necessary, it is not at all clear to us that, under Section 47 (3) of the Act, he has given any definite finding in this matter. Indisputably, he has a right to come to such a finding, as his concurrence is necessary, both under Section 47 (3), and with regard to the grant of the permit itself, before the permit granted by the Regional Transport Authority, Ramanathapuram, for the entire route could be accepted as a valid one. But, we do not think that the argument is. sound that both the Authorities should simultaneously proceed under Section 47 (3)., and come to the same conclusion, before the Authority who can initiate the proceedings under Section 45, can take the matter up further, and grant the permits Certainly, there may be cases in which both Authorities, after consultation or correspondence, do take up the matter under Section 47 (3), and both first arrive at the conclusion that the route itself is necessary in the public interest. Since it has recently been clarified by the Supreme Court and by us, beyond any doubt or controversy, that the procedure is in two stages, and that finding under Section 47 (3) that the route should be opened in the public interest is an essential and distinct pre-requisite to the grant of the permit itself, the argument cannot be repelled that the Regional Transport Authority, Ramanathapuram, and the Regional Transport Authority, Tirunelveli should both arrive at a finding under Section 47 (3) of the Act, that the route is necessary in the public interest.

8. Both possess the jurisdiction and the obligation, since the route is an inter-district route. But while it may be highly desirable that both the concerned Authority should complete this stage, before the particular Authority under Section 45. proceeds to the stage of the grant of the permit, it may not always be practicable that this should happen. Nor will it affect the legality of the grant of the permit, if the concurrence, both with regard to Section 47 (3) and with regard to the grant itself, is obtained subsequent to the grant by the main Authority. All that will happen, where such a concurrence is not obtained, is that the permit will not be valid for the inter-district route. The concurrence is essential, but neither the statute, nor the rule, renders it incumbent that every stage of the concurrence should be simultaneous with the stage of decision of the main Authority.

9. This being made clear, it is now obvious that no Writ of Prohibition should issue restraining the Regional Transport , Authority, Ramanathapuram, from further proceeding with the grant of a permit on this route. He has every jurisdiction to do so, after considering the claims of the respondent and others who might have applied for this permit, who, apparently, include the appellant himself. But, after this grant, if it is made, the Regional Transport Authority, Tirunelveli, will have to express concurrence in two stages, both under Section 47 (3), and with regard to the actual grant. These orders are subject to statutory appeals, and it is conceded by learned Counsel for the respondent that, even if he succeeds in obtaining this permit, at the hands of the Regional Transport Authority, Ramanathapuram, the permit will not be valid without this concurrence, expressed in two stages, by the Regional Transport Authority, Tirunelveli. If the concurrence is refused, the only remedy of the affected party is to take up the matter by way of Appeal.

10. This really disposes of the Writ of Prohibition. As regards the Writ of certiorari, it is sufficient for us to point out that, since Rajagopala Naidu's case : [1964]7SCR1 , and our own Judgments, it is now indisputable that administrative directions cannot be issued by any Authority to any quasi-judicial Authority under the Act, in respect of a quasi-judicial matter. Nor can such an administrative direction in respect of a quasi-judicial function, be brought within the scope of Section 44 (3) (c); certainly, the Transport Commissioner has a jurisdiction to decide disputes, and matters of differences of opinion between two Regional Transport Authorities. But that must be interpreted as relating to disputes or differences at the administrative level, and not with regard to their quad-judicial functions and acts, for which there are separate statutory appeals, and Tribunals constituted to hear such appeals. Hence, the Regional Transport Authority, Tirunelveli, should now proceed, in case there is a grant of a permit by the Regional Transport Authority, Ramanathapuram, on this inter-district route to take up the question of concurrence, both under Section 47 (3) and with respect to the grant itself. But he will do so, wholly uninfluenced by the proceedings of the Transport Commissioner dated 19th August, 1965, and unhampered by any such direction. That document will have to be ignored altogether. Since that document was issued in 1965, and a considerable period has since elapsed, we do not think it necessary for us to formally exercise our jurisdiction, in certiorari, to strike down that proceeding. This clarification of the situation at law is sufficient. The two Appeals are accordingly dismissed. No costs.


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