T. Ramaprasada Rao, J.
1. W.P. No. 3008 of 1971: The petitioner is a bus operator running stage carriages between Dharmapuri and Salem and in other routes. The petitioner was collecting fares at the rate of 41/2 paise per kilometer. The Secretary, Regional Transport Authority, by a notice dated 9th August, 1971, directed the petitioner to submit a revised fare table, applying the rate in accordance with 'G.O. No. 1674, Home, dated 22nd June, 1971. The petitioner submitted a fare list. The Secretary, Regional Transport Authority, fixed a fare for the route to be collected and directed the petitioner to collect such fare on the pain of disciplinary action being taken, if it is violated. The grievance of the petitioner is that the Secretary, Regional Transport Authority, has only an option either to accept the, fares as disclosed in the list filed by the petitioner or to reject the same and he ha* no other power under the provisions of the Act to deal with the situation. Reliance is placed upon the decision of our Court in N.S. Motor Service v. S.T. Authority : AIR1968Mad236 . The further contention of the petitioner is that the Secretary, Regional Transport Authority, has no jurisdiction to fix the fare and as the fare in the instant case has been so fixed and without jurisdiction, the petitioner seeks to quash the said order of the respondent.
2. Prior to the Central Act LVI of 1969, under Section 43(1) of the Motoi Vehicles Act, the State Government, having regard to the advantage offered to the public, trade and industry by the development of motor transport, the desirability of co-ordinating road and rail transport, the desirability of preventing the deterioration of the road system, and the desirability of preventing uneconomic competition among motor Vehicles, may, from time to time by a notification in the Official Gazette, issue directions to the State Transport Authority regarding the fixing of fares and freights for stage carriages, contract carriages and public carriers. After the passing of the Amendment Act LVI of 1969, Section 43(1)(i) of the Motor Vehicles Act empowers the State Government to issue directions to the State Transport Authority by a notification in the Official Gazette regarding the fixing of minimum and maximum fares and freights for stage carriages, contract carriages and public carriers. It is therefore clear that the State Government have, after 1969, power to direct the Transport Authorities to fix a minimum fare for stage carriages on any particular or named route. The ratio in N.S. Motor Service v. S.T. Authority : AIR1968Mad236 , was rendered at a time where this amendment was not there. The prior to amendment position obviously gave only a discretion to the State to issue general directions to the Transport Authority to fix fares and freights, but the State could not enjoin the Transport Authority to fix a minimum fare which the State itself thought fit and reasonable under the peculiar circumstances relevant in a given route and having regard to the various conditions laid down in Section 43(1) of the Act, to fix. In the instant case, the Government order on which reliance was placed by the respondent in directing the petitioner to collect a particular fare was passed under the amended Section 43(1)(a) of the Motor Vehicles Act. I have already referred to its scope. If, once the State Government in exercise of their powers under Section (43)(1), fix a minimum fare for any stage carriage running on a particular route and if they issue a direction as contemplated in the sub-clause, then the State Transport Authority, including the respondent in this case has no option except to follow and adopt such minimum rate as the only authorised fare which a transport operator could charge. Reference was made to Section 48(3) of the Act which lays down Various conditions which are generally attached to the permits granted by the Transport authorities enabling the transport operators to run the stage carriages. Clause (xii) therein says that fares shall be charged in accordance with the approved fare table and under clause (xiii) therein such approved fare table shall be exhibited on every stage carriage and at specified stands and halts. Mr. Ramanathan learned Counsel for the* petitioner, contends that having regard to the language in Clauses (xii) and (xiii) of Section 48(3), the Transport Authority has only one option left to it either to approve the list of fares submitted by an operator or to reject the same. Pursuing the argument, it is said that such an option is singular and one way and the Transport Authority cannot fix a minimum fare for any route even though it might be as a result of the direction by the State Government under Section 43 of the Act. Section 48 is merely an elucidatory Section which contains Various conditions which are to be attached to a permit. Section 48 is certainly subject to Section 43(1) which vests power in the State Government to control the road transport by fixing fares for stage carriages. Therefore, if such a fare has been fixed and if there is no maximum fare indicated in the directions issued by the State Government, then it obviously follows that such is the fare which ought to be fixed by the Transport Authorities and that would be the approved fare for the route within the meaning of Clause (xii) of Section 48. If this is not understood grammatically in the above way, then Section 43 would become otiose and it can never be implemented, for the fixation of fares would be in the hands of the operators and there will be no relative option with the Transport Authority to fix or the State Government to issue directions from time to time to fix such fares. To interpret in this way would be to understand Section 43(1) completely out of its context and de hors its true meaning. As I am of the view that minimum fares can be fixed by the State Government after the Amendment Act LVI of 1969, such minimum fares shall rule the situation and shall be deemed, to be the particular fares for the routes in question. In this view, the ratio in N.S. Motor Service v. Section T. Authority : AIR1968Mad236 , is not opposed to the instant case and as the rate has been fixed well within the jurisdiction of the respondent, there is no error of law or error of jurisdiction. This Writ petition is dismissed.
W.P. Nos. 3099 and 3100 of 1971:
3. In the light of my above decisions, these Writ petitions are also dismissed.