P.B. Mukharji, J.
1. This is an application under Article 226 of the Constitution complaining against an order made by the Regional Transport Authority of Burdwan. The petitioners obtained this Rule on the 27th July, 1960 and also obtained an interim order for injunction in this Rule on the 24th August, 1960.
2. The material facts are as follows. The petitioners arc the permit-holders of buses of Jay Kay Nagar route and ply their buses between the dossing of the Grand Trunk Road, Hutton Road, Asansol and Jay Kay Nagar. On the 30th April, 1960, a notice was published in the local paper called 'Asansol Hitaishi' by the Secretary of the Regional Transport Authority, Burdwan in these terms:-
'This is for information of the public in general that the Regional Transport Authority, Rurdwan have decided to grant permanent extension of the bus route 'Lachipur-Kalipahari' upto Jay Kay Nagar as approved by the State Transport Authority, West Bengal. The date of the Regional Transport Authority meeting will be fixed and notified later on.
Objection, if any, regarding the proposed extension of the route will be received by the Regional Transport Authority, Burdwan up to 20-5-60 during office hours.
Regional Transport Authority, Burdwan.'
3. On the 17th June, 1960, a meeting was held of the R. T. A. Burdwan, to consider the proposed extension of the route. The petitioner had notice of the meeting and was represented there by a lawyer. The extension ultimately was granted by the R. T. A. on the same day that the objections were disposed of by that Authority. Such extension was granted to the third opposite party called Haramoban Mazumdar of Asansol who is the holder of route permit No. P. St. S. 395/53-54 and the route Asansol town and suburbs (Dhadka, Luchipur, Kalipahari Asansol and suburbs) who plied his Bus being No. WGH 111 at the said route. This Haramohan Mazumdar had applied as early as 8th February, 1959, for extension of his permit from Sitarampur Railway Station to J. K. Nagar Workshop in place of Lachipur Railway Gate to Kalipahari.
4. The petitioners objected before the R. T. A. that the extension should not be granted. Their objections were considered and rejected by the R. T. A. It is not necessary here in this application to go into the merits and points of objections filed by the petitioners before the R. T. A. in answer to the notice published in the papers.
5. Mr. Moitra, learned Advocate for the petitioners has challenged the order of the R. T. A., Burdwan, on two grounds. In the first place he has challenged the order as being illegal and in violation of Section 57 (8) of the Motor Vehicles Act. In the second place he has challenged the order of the R. T. A. on the ground that it has been influenced by the approval and direction of a Superior body, the State Transport Authority. In support of the second ground Mr. Moitra has referred to the very order of the R. T. A. passed on the meeting of the 17th June, 1960, which received the approval of the State Transport Authorities, That approval of the State Transport Authorities is mentioned as No. 1150-STA/T9B-30/59 dated the 9th March, 1960. I called upon the learned Government Pleader to produce that order of the State Transport Authority and that letter containing the order has been produced. It reads as follows: -
'..... the undersigned is directed to statethat there is no objection to the extension of Luchipur-Kalipahari bus service up to Jaykaynagore in the manner laid down under Section 57 (8) of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1939.'
6. It seems to me clear on a plain reading of the language of Section 57 (8) of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1939, that an application to vary the conditions of any permit, except a temporary permit, by the inclusion of a new route or routes or a new area, shall be treated as an application for the grant of a new permit with the exception expressly noted there. The whole question is whether extension of an existing route by including a new area comes within the meaning of Section 57 (8) of the Act. The language of that sub-section seems to me to leave no room for argument that it does. It says so expressly that an application to vary the conditions of any permit by the inclusion of a new route or a new area shall be treated as an application for the grant of a new permit. It is certainly subject to certain exceptions. These exceptions, however, are immaterial and irrelevant for they do not apply to the present case before me. This was also expressly said in the very order of the State Transport Authority which I have quoted above. It follows, therefore, that the application of the third respondent for the extension should have been treated by the R. T. A. as an application for issuing a new permit. It is not only so by the express words of Section 57 itself but also by reason of the express direction of the State Transport Authority.
7. The application of the third respondent was to include a new area and to vary the condition of his permit within the meaning of Section 57 (8) of the Act. Section 57 (8) of the Act expressly mentions application to vary the conditions of a permit. That condition specifically refers to the claim for a new route or a new area. Proviso to Section 48 (1) of this Act lays down that no permit for a stage carriage shall be granted in respect of any route or area not specified in the application. Section 48 (2) of the Act makes it clear and express that every stage carriage permit shall be expressed to be valid only for a specified route or routes for a specified area. That is a statutory condition requiring express declaration of specified route for a specified area in the stage carriage permit. Under the conditions of a permit it is also slated under Section 48 (3) (ii) the minimum and maximum number of daily services to be maintained in relation to any route or area generally or on specified days and occasions may be one of the conditions attached to the permit. It is the variation of that condition which the third respondent sought in this case. Therefore, his application under the express language of Section 57 (8) must be treated as an application for the grant of a new permit.
8. Once this conclusion is reached it follows that the order of the R. T. A. in this case cannot stand for it did not deal with the application of the third respondent as an application for the grant of a new permit. It did not follow in particular the requirement of Section 57 (2) of the Act. No application was invited and no dates were specified as laid down in Sub-section (2) of Section 57 of the Act. The notice that was published in the papers, and which I have quoted above, will clearly show three major features. The first is that it was a notice announcing that the R. T. A. had decided to extend the existing route. Secondly, it announced a meeting was to be held by the R. T. A.; and thirdly, it only said that objections, if any, regarding that extension of the route would be received by the R. T. A. within 20-5-60. Reading this notice as a whole all that it amounts to is this that the public were informed that objections to the extension would be heard. Although there was a tentative decision of the R. T. A. that the route will be extended nevertheless the R. T. A. invited public objections to such extensions. In fact the R. T. A. had specified a date within which objections only to the proposed extension could be filed. The notice, however, did not ask for applications for grant of a new permit and did not specify any date or dates for such purpose. Section 57 (1) of the Act says that an application for a contract carriage permit or a private carrier's permit may be made at any time. This is not a contract carriage permit or a private carrier's permit. Then follows Sub-section (2) of Section 57 which reads as follows:
'An application for a stage carriage permit or a public carrier's permit shall be made not less than six weeks before the date on which it is desired that the permit shall take effect, or, if the Regional Transport Authority appoints dates for the receipt of such applications, on such dates.'
9. As I read the above provision of Sub-section (2) of Section 57 it appears to me that an application for a stage carriage permit or a public carrier's permit cannot be made at any time as in the case of contract carriage permit or a private carrier's permit and therefore, special dates are mentioned in the case of stage carriage permit or public carrier's permit. Those dates are 'not less than six weeks before the date on which it is desired that the permit shall take effect'. If that is not possible then 'If the Regional Transport Authority appoints dates for the receipt of such applications, on such dates.' Therefore, two times are mentioned. If it is desired that the permit shall take effect on a particular date then such an application for a new permit must be made not less than six weeks before that date. It has been contended by Mr. Banerjee appearing for the third respondent that the word 'desired' means desired by the applicants. If that is the meaning then the words 'permit shall take effect' should have been 'the permit should take effect' and not 'shall' and it would be open to any applicant to put any date on the ground that he 'desired' that his pennit should take effect from that date. Apart from such a suggestion being impractical, unreasonable and administratively impossible to execute it will defeat the very purpose of distinction that has been made in the case of such a permit which can only be made on certain specified dates as distinguished from the contract carriage permit on a private carrier's permit. It is true that the forms and conditions of the license show that the applicant has to express there his 'desire' under Clauses 11, 12 and 15 of Form P. St. P. A. But the word 'desired' in these clauses of the prescribed form merely, refer to the desire only for the use of the vehicle as a public or private carrier or use of the vehicle as a contract carriage within the specified area or desire for a permit valid for a period of years. That 'desire' does not suggest stating any desire that the permit shall take effect from a particular date. No such clause or column appears in the prescribed form and rightly because that, I do not think, was the intention of Section 57 (2). The other part of the time which the R. T. A. could have appointed as the date for receipt of application does not apply to this case, because the R. T. A. did not appoint any such time in the notice I have quoted above.
10. The other condition that expressly appears from Sub-clause (3) of Section 57 of the Act, is the duty of the R. T. A. to make the application available for inspection at the office of the authority and to publish the application or the substance thereof in the prescribed manner together with a notice of the date before which representations in connection therewith may be submitted and that date is expressly said to be not less than 30 days from such publication on which, and the time and place at which the applications and any representations received will be considered. Now it appears that there has been violation of Sub-section (3) of Section 57 also in this case,
11. In the first place although the notice published in the papers expressly, invited objections by the particular date 20th May, 1960, the Regional Transport Authority in disposing of the objections in their meeting dated 17th June, 1960 not only rejected the objections but also granted extension to the third respondent. Now that is violation of both Sub-section (2) as well as Sub-section (3) of Section 57 because the statutory time either of six weeks or any appointed date was not made available as required under Sub-section (2) nor was the application already existing of the third respondent made available for inspection at the office of the Regional Transport Authority. His application also was not published, which is a violation of Sub-section (3). The affidavit-in-opposition of Sudhir Bhusan Mazumdar, the Secretary of the Regional Transport Authority admits in paragraph 5 of that affidavit that
'No new application for the aforesaid route was called for -- the permit holder of the existing route proposed for extension was stated as an applicant for the extended portion and accordingly the substance of the said extension was published ia the local newspapers and was also displayed in the notice board of the Regional Transport Authority's office inviting objection petition by 25-5-60.'
That I am afraid is not compliance with either Sub-section (2) or Sub-section (3) of Section 57 of the Act. It is then said in that affidavit in defence that the petitioner was aware of the third respondent's application as recommended by M/s. Aluminium Corporation. Even that awareness cannot excuse the statutory obligation of the Regional Transport Authority according to the sub-sections. It is not only for the third respondent but also for the 'public interest' in general that these dates for applications as under Sub-section (2) and the publicity as required in Sub-section (3) should be adhered to. The affidavit-in-opposition further makes it clear that
'As the existing permit-holder of the proposed route was treated as the only applicant for the extended portion of the route no further petition was called for and the substance of that only application was duly published in the local news-papers and also in the notice hoard of office of the Regional Transport Authority inviting objections to the proposed extension.'
That again is not in conformity with these two subsections of Section 57. Why should the Regional Transport Authority treat this as the only application and why should not the public get a chance to put in application according to the public advertisement
12. The next point urged by Mr. Moitra is that the Regional Transport Authority should not have consisted the State Transport Authority and obtained its approval because the State Transport Authority is a superior body whose approval influenced and prejudiced the responsibility and obligation of the Regional Transport Authority who was the sole authority to determine this question under the statute. I do not think that this objection is sound. The Regional Transport Authority was not influenced or biased by the approval of the State Transport Authority. The State Transport Authority is a public body charged with certain public duties and functions. Section 44 of that Act is relevant for this purpose. Sub-section (3) of Section 44 of the Motor Vehicles Act says that the State Transport Authority shall give effect to any directions issued under Section 43, and subject to such directions and save as otherwise provided by or under this Act shall exercise and discharge throughout the State certain powers and functions mentioned there. Among such powers and functions one is to co-ordinate and regulate the activities and policies of the Regional Transport Authorities in the State. The other is to settle all disputes and decide all matters on which differences of opinion arise between Regional Transport Authorities. Then again another power is to perform the duties of a Regional Transport Authority where there is no such Authority and, if it thinks fit or if so required by a Regional Transport Authority, the State Transport Authority can also perform those duties in respect of any route common to two or more regions, In Sub-section (4) of Section 44 of the Act it is also provided that the State Transport Authority may, subject to the conditions and limitations imposed by the Act, issue directions to any Regional Transport Authority and the Regional Transport Authority shall be guided by such directions. The general power of State Government to control State Transport is given in Section 43 of the Act. There is, therefore, really nothing illegal in the Regional Transport Authority wanting to know from the State Transport Authority its views on the proposed extension of the route. It was only one of the factors that was considered by the Regional Transport Authority in coming to that decision. The order of the Regional Transport Authority does not show that the opinion of the State Transport Authority was solely responsible for the decision of the Regional Transport Authority. If any-body can object and make representations under Sub-sections (3), (4), (5) and (6) of Section 57 I do not see why even the State Transport Authority should be debarred from saying that it does, not object. Indeed the view expressed by the State Transport Authority in this case far from being against the petitioner, actually supports his contention because the State Transport Authority in this case expressly said that it had no objection to the proposed extension provided it was done in the manner laid down under Section 57 (8) of the Motor Vehicles Act, This part has already been quoted elsewhere in the judgment. That is exactly the case of the petitioner for he contends that the provisions of Section 57 (8) of the Act have not been complied with and the application for the proposed extension has not been treated as an application for the grant of a new permit.
13. For these reasons this application must succeed. The Rule is made absolute in the sense that the part of the order of the Regional Transport Authority granting the third respondent the permit for the extended route is quashed and the Regional Transport Authority is directed to forbear from giving effect to that portion. Rut the other portion of the order of the Regional Transport Authority holding that the route should be extended and rejecting objections to the extension of the route will remain valid and good.
14. There will be no order as to costs.