P.B. Mukharji, J.
1. This is an application by Messrs Naib Transport (Private) Ltd., under Article 226 of the Constitution directed against the Regional Transport Authority. The application seeks for a writ of certiorari to quash the orders dated the 24th/26th December, 1956 passed by the Regional Transport Authority. Calcutta Region. By that order the Regional Transport Authority refused to grant two stage carriage permits in favour of Messrs. Naib Transport (Private) Ltd. authorising them to ply their two buses Nos. WBS-781 and WBS-759 on route 12C of Calcutta. There was an appeal before the Appellate Sub-Committee of the State Transport Authority, West Bengal. The Appellate Sub-Committee also rejected the appeal of the applicant. The present application is directed against that order.
2. The two points, of objection that have been urged before me by Dr. Atul Chandra Gupta on behalf of the applicant may be broadly stated. His first objection is that the Regional Transport Authority misdirected itself in refusing the stage carriage permit to the applicant on the ground or nationalisation of transport. His second objection is that the Regional Transport Authority also took into consideration the congestion in Howrah, which according to the applicant is also not a permissible consideration. In fact the substance of the objections of the applicant to the order refusing permit is that the State Transport Authority took into consideration matters not permitted to be considered under Section 47 of the Motor Vehicles Act.
3. The facts of the case lie within a small compass. The applicant had two buses Nos. WBS 781 and WBS 759 on route No. 33 of Calcutta covered by permits which were valid till 9-11-1956. The applicant applied in the prescribed form for grant of stage carriage permits for those two buses to ply on route No. 12C which is a route from Barisha to Howrah Station. Calcutta. The application was opposed by the Director of Operation. State Transport who filed objections. The main objections of the Director of Transport to the grant of permit to the two buses in favour of the applicant in route 12C are four-fold. The first objection is that the number of buses in the particular route in Calcutta could not be increased without an order of Government. The second objection was that there were 23 buses now plying on that route. When the State Transport was operating on that route it had only 12 buses. The traffic between Howrah Station and Esplanade is now carried by over 100 State buses, trams as well as 23 buses on route 12C. Therefore, it is said that no extra bus was necessary. It is also said that there will be a loss of government revenue if more private buses were allowed to ply on the route. The third objection was that the bus stand at Howrah station was already too congested and there was no room for additional buses. In fact the Superintendent of Police. Howrah. wrote to the Directorate not to put any more buses at the . Howrah Station. Fourthly, the Director of Operation, State Transport, objected on the ground that for those reasons an application from the owners of buses on routes 12, 12A and 12B to extend their routes to Howrah Station was rejected last year by the Regional Transport Authority, Calcutta. A public hearing was granted to the applicant under Section 57 (5) of the Motor Vehicles Act. 1939.
4. A part of the applicant's case is that in 1954 when route 33 was nationalised and taken over by the State Transport Directorate it was alleged to be agreed between the Government and the applicant that the buses of route 33 would go to route 12C given over to private buses by the State Transport Directorate in lieu of route 33. The applicant alleges that according to the said agreement its two buses were to go to route 12C. It was open to the applicant to take these two buses to route 12C at the time. While all other buses of route 33 readily accepted route 12C the applicant however refused to shift its two buses to route 12C on the ground that their permits were valid till the 9-11-1956. The position of route 12C in 1954 was quite different from what it is today because between Howrah Station & Esplanade now more than 100 State buses have been plying, but in 1954 the number was very much less and secondly the congestion at the Howrah Station has increased very much more than what it was in 1954. Besides the Regional Transport Authority points out that it has already been decided by the Government to nationalise all city routes including even route 12C.
5. On these facts it is now said that the refusal to grant permits was based on two considerations, namely, (1) Government policy of nationalisation of transport and (2) congestion in Howrah. It is said that those two considerations are unjustified under Section 47 of the Act.
6. D. Gupta, appearing for the applicant, has relied on the decision of Sinha, J., in Onkarmal Mistri v. Regional Transport Authority, Darjeeling : AIR1956Cal490 (A). Sinha, J.. came to the conclusion in that case that the Regional Transport Authority had taken into consideration matters which it was not entitled to do under Section 55 of the Act, and therefore the discretion used by it has not been a proper one. The question was again considered by Bose, J., in Messrs Satya Narayan Transport Co. Ltd. v. Secretary State Transport Authority, West Bengal, : AIR1957Cal638 (B). on which the learned Standing Counsel relied, and which took a different view from that taken by Sinha. J. It was there said by Bose, J. that the words 'shall have regard to' in Section 47 of the Motor Vehicles Act implied that the Section was not exhaustive. Bose. J. at page 732 (of Cal WN); (at p. 641 of AIR) says :
'The requirement of the section is that the matters specified in the section must be taken into consideration; in other words, the primary duty of the Regional Transport Authority is to take into consideration the matters specified. But it does not follow that the hands of the Regional Transport Authority are tied to the consideration of these matters alone and they must shut their eyes to everything else.'
7. It appears to me that it is unnecessary in the present case to compose the different views expressed in these two decisions. Section 47 of the Motor Vehicles Act of 1939 is. to my mind, quite clear. It provides, inter alia, that the Regional Transport Authority shall in considering an application for a stage carriage permit have regard to '(a) the interest of the public generally' and '(f) the condition of the roads included in the proposed route or area'. The words 'the interest of the public generally' are designedly general words, and no unnecessary, narrow and technical construction should be applied. The question of the nationalisation of transportation certainly is a question which can at least be considered under the expression 'the interest of the public generally'. Whether nationalisation of transport is ultimately or primarily in the interest of the general public may be a debatable point but is always and certainly in my view a question which can lawfully be considered under that expression 'interest of the public generally' and its consideration is therefore not excluded. It is therefore, clear that in considering the question of nationalisation, the Regional Transport Authority, in my opinion was not taking into consideration matters not within the suggested curriculum for consideration in Section 47 of the Act.
8. Similarly, the congestion in Howrah is also a matter which not only comes within the expression 'the interest of the public generally' but also within the other expression 'the condition of the roads included in the proposed route or area' in Section 47 of the Act. I should have thought that both these considerations were not only germane but very relevant in considering any application for a stage carriage permit. The actual language of Section 47 permits it and commonsense supports it.
9. Before I conclude, it is only necessary to state that Sinha. J.'s decision was based on the Allahabad decision in Motilal v. Government of the State of Uttar Pradesh. : AIR1951All257 (C), after which the Constitution was amended to provide in Article 19(6)(ii) permission to the State for making laws relating to the carrying on by the State or by a corporation owned or controlled by the State, of any trade, business, industry or service, whether to the exclusion, complete or partial, or citizens or otherwise. Thereafter, the Motor Vehicles (West Bengal) Amendment Act 19 of 1951 received the assent of the President on 30-7-1951 by which Section 48A was introduced. It reads as follows :
Issue of State carriage permits to Government or local authority. Notwithstanding anything contained in sections 47 and 48; the Regional Transport Authority or the 'State Transport Authority shall issue State Carriage permits applied for, by or on behalf of the State Government or a local authority with the concurrence of the State Government.'
This amendment clearly recognises the nationalisation of the State Transport and for State permits. Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 47 and 48 of the Motor Vehicles Act, the Regional Transport Authority or the State Transport Authority has to issue stage carriage permits to State Governments.
10. I am. therefore, satisfied that in this case the Regional Transport Authority did not consider any illegal or unauthorised matters in coming to the decision of refusing the permit to the applicant.
11. I shall conclude by a reference to an amendment of Section 47 of the Act which brings the question of congestion still more indubitably within the realm of consideration. Section 47 (3) of the Motor Vehicles Act, amended by Section 41 of Act 100 of 1956, provides as follows :
'A Regional Transport Authority may, having regard to the matters mentioned in Sub-section (1) limit the number of stage carriages generally or of a specified type for which stage carriage permits may be granted in the region or in any specified area or on any specified route within the region.'
It is obvious, when power is given to the Regional Transport Authority to limit the number of stage carriages, it is in order to avoid congestion.
12. I am, therefore, unable in the present context of the law and the facts of this case to hold that in considering the question of nationalisation and congestion, the Regional Transport Authority did anything illegal under Section 47 of the Motor Vehicles Act. I am inclined to think the less restricted view of the general words 'the interest of the public generally' and the expression 'the condition of the roads' than what appears to have been given by Agarwala, J. in the U. P. Case helps in properly reflecting the object of the Act. In any event, after the amendment of the Constitution which I have noticed and after the introduction of Section 48A. I have no hesitation in holding that the Regional Transport Authority was justified in considering nationalisation and congestion as relevant and permissible factors in the matter of granting permits.
13. For these reasons, this application must fail. The rule is discharged. The interim order, if any, is vacated. I make no order as to the costs of this application.