1. This is an application under Article 226 of the Constitution for writs in the nature of Certiorari and Prohibition for quashing of an order made by the Appellate Sub-Committee of the State Transport Authority, West Bengal dated the 21st May 1956 modifying an order of the Regional Transport Authority dated the 6th January, 1956 in respect of grant of certain stage carriage permits under the provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act. 1939 and also for prohibiting the respondents from giving effect to the said order.
2. The case of the petitioner is that the petitioner is a Private Limited Company registered under the Indian Companies Act. There are three members of the Company who are brothers, viz., Hari Charan Metia, who is a Driver Mechanic, Sushil Chandra Metia. who is also a Driver Mechanic and Bankim Chandra Metia. who is the Managing Director of the said Company. Since the incorporation of the Company on the 29th May, 1949 the petitioner has been plying stage carriages on permits granted under the provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act In different routes on Tamluk-Norghat and Tamluk-Terapekhia. Pursuant to a notice dated the 28th-March. 1953 published in the local weekly paper 'Pradip' applications were invited from Companies and from Co-operative Societies for two stage carriage permits for Norghat-Kalinagar route. Such applications were to be submitted by the 15th April, 1953. On 20th April. 1953 a notice dated the 18th April, 1953 was published in the said weekly paper 'Pradip' intimating that applications from twenty two concerns for two stage carriages had been received by the office of the Regional Transport Authority and by the said notice representations were also invited under 8. 57 of the Motor Vehicles Act. 1939. The petitioner Company submitted one application for stage carriage permit and Kalinagar Bus Association, the respondent No. 6 in this application, submitted two applications. On the 25th February, 1954 the Regional Transport Authority. Midnapore, at a meeting resolved to grant one stage carriage permit in favour of the petitioner Company and the other to Messrs. Jagatdhatri Transport Ltd. As these were according to the Regional Transport Authority the most- suitable candidates for getting the permits the resolution was to grant stage carriage permits for a period of three years. On 15th March. 1954 a stage carriage permit valid up to 24th February, 1957 was granted in favour of the petitioner Company for plying a stage, carriage on the Katinagar-Norghat route. The respondent No. 6, Kalinagar BUR Association, thereafter preferred an appeal against the order of the Regional Transport Authority dated the 25th February, 1954 to the State Transport Authority, West Bengal. On 16th August. 1954 the Chairman of the Appellate Subcommittee of the State Transport Authority passed the following order :
'The Sub-Committee perused the record and heard the learned Advocates of the appellant and respondents. The Sub-Committee found that the Regional Transport Authority, Midnapore. have not recorded any reason or grounds for rejecting the application of the appellant either in the minutes of the meeting or in the report to the Committee and had not complied with the provisions, of Section 57 (7) of the Motor Vehicles Act, in view of the above circumstances, the Sub-Committee set aside the order appealed against and directed the Regional Transport Authority to dispose of the matter in due compliance with the provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act and the Rules framed thereunder.'
3. It appears that thereafter the Regional Transport Authority invited new applications for the grant of permit in Norghat-Kalinagar route. Such invitation was made by a notice dated the 14th February, 1955 which was published in the said weekly paper 'Pradip'. On 28th March. 1955 another notice was published in the said weekly paper inviting representations under Section 57 of the Motor Vehicles Act and intimating that fifty two applications had been received from different persons and concerns. It is to be noted that although fresh applications were being invited by the Regional Transport; Authority the petitioner was allowed to ply the bus on the Norghat-Kalinagar route until about the 17th September, 1955 when the petitioner Company was asked to surrender the permits issued pursuant to the order dated the 24th February, 1954 for cancellation of the same. The petitioner Company, however, surrendered only Part A of the permit which is carried by the holder of the permit but did not surrender Part B of the permit which is carried on the vehicle. The petitioner still retains Part B of the permit and it further appears that the Regional Transport Authority granted temporary permit to the petitioner in the meantime for plying the stage carriage for the convenience of the public. The new applications for stage carriage permits which had been invited by the Regional Transport Authority were heard and considered by the Regional Transport Authority on the 11th November, 1955 and the Regional Transport Authority fixed 3rd December, 1955 for passing orders on such applications. In fact, however, no order was made on the 3rd December, 1955 and the matter was postponed from time to time till 6th January. 1956 when an order was made granting the application of Sri Bankim Chandra Samanta, who is respondent No. 5 in this application, as it appeared to the Regional Transport Authority that the said Mr. Samanta was the most fit to be granted such permit. The other permit was granted in favour of Jagatdhatri Motor Transport Company. It is alleged in the petition that the said order is an invalid one, inasmuch as the permit which was granted In favour of Bankim Chandra Samanta was granted on the extraneous consideration that the said applicant was a political sufferer and was badly in need of some provisions. It is further alleged that the said order is also bad inasmuch as it does not set out the reasons for rejecting the applications of other candidates as contemplated by Section 57 (7) of the Motor Vehicles Act. The petitioner company preferred an appeal against the order of the Regional Transport Authority dated the 6th January, 1956 under Section 64 (a) of the Motor Vehicles Act to the State Transport Authority, Government of West Bengal. On the 27th February. 1956 the State Transport Authority Intimated to the Chairman of the Regional Transport Authority of the fact of the filing of the appeal before the Appellate Sub-Committee and the State Transport Authority also directed the stay of the operation of the order made by the Regional Transport Authority on the 6th January, 1956. On the 27th April 1956 the Appellate Sub-Committee of the State Transport Authority heard the said appeal preferred by the petitioner Company and on the 21st May, 1956 the Chairman of the Appellate Sub-Committee signed an order whereby the order in so far as it related to the grant of permit in favour of the Jagatdhari Motor Transport Ltd, was set aside but the order made in favour of Bankim Chandra Samanta by the Regional Transport Authority on the 6th January, 1956 was upheld. The said order is as follows :
'The Sub-COmmittee heard the appellants and persued the records. The opposite party, Sri Bankim Chandra Samanta, was present and heard but the other opposite party, Messrs. Jagatdhari Motor Transport Co. Ltd. was unrepresented, although duly notified. The appellants admitted before the Sub-Committee that they already held two permits for stage carriages. The Sub-Commit-tee also found that the opposite party No. 1 Messrs. Jagatdhari Motor Transport Co. Ltd. also held one permit for a stage carriage on Panskura-Norghat route. According to Rule 57A of the B.M.V. Rules, 1940, when applications for a permit in respect of a stage carriage have been received from a person holding one or more permits and from a person having no such permit, other conditions being equal, preference shall be given to the latter. The Sub-Committee found that the R.T.A. Midnapore had not taken into consideration the above rule. The Sub-Committee therefore set aside the order of the R. T. A. so far as it related to the grant of a permit to Messrs. Jagatdhari Motor Transport Co., Ltd. The Sub-Committee directed the R. T. A., Midhapore to make their selection for the second permit from the applications already received in this regard keeping in view the pro-Visions of Rule 57A of the B.M.V. Rules 1940.
Sd/- J N. Talukdar,
4. The petitioner Company thereupon moved this Court under Article 226 of the Constitution and obtained a Rule Nisi on 1st June 1956. The Rule so obtained directed the respondents to show cause why a Writ in the nature of Certiorari should not issue for quashing and/or setting aside the proceedings and the orders passed on the 6th January, 1956 and 2lst May, 1956 mentioned in the petition. An interim injunction was also issued restraining the respondents from giving effect to the order issuing the permit and also restraining the permit-holders from plying the buses on the strength of the permit issued by the Regional Transport Authority in their favour. Subsequently, on the 17th July, 1056, the said interim injunction was modified in certain respects. An affidavit-in-opposition has been filed on behalf of respondents Nos. 3 and 4 and the respondent N6: 5 has filed a separate affidavit adopting the statements of fact made in the affidavits filed on behalf of respondents 3 and 4 and also stating therein certain additional facts.
5. Mr. Arun Kumar Dutt, the learned Advocate appearing for the petitioner company, has argued that the order of the Regional Transport Authority dated the 6th of January, 1956 is bad because in making the order the Regional Transport Authority has taken into consideration extraneous and irrelevant matters not germane to the subject. It is pointed out that one of the reasons for selecting Bankim Chandra Samanta, the Respondent No. 5, as a suitable candidate for granting the permit is that he is a political sufferer and is now badly in need of some such provisions. It is submitted that the Regional Transport Authority being a creature of statute its powers are circumscribed by the provisions of the statute and the Regional Transport Authority has therefore no power to travel beyond the provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1939. Reference is made to Section 44 of the Act to show that the Regional Transport Authority is to exercise and discharge the powers and functions conferred by or under this Chapter on such Authority. The Chapter referred to is Chapter IV of the Motor Vehicles Act. Section 47 of the Act provides that in deciding whether to grant or refuse a stage carriage permit, a Regional Transport Authority shall have regard to the matters specified in Clauses (a), (b), (c), (d), (e) and (f) of that section. Mr. Dutt has urged that the Regional Transport Authority in granting, or refusing stage carriage permit can take into consideration only the matters specified in this section and no other matter. In support of this argument reliance is placed on a decision of Sinha J. reported in Onkarmal Mistri v. Regional Transport Authority, Darjeeling, : AIR1956Cal490 . In this case it was held by Sinha J. that consideration by the Regional Transport Authority of the fact that the applicants for permits in that case were refugees or political sufferers and/or were deserving candidates to whom permits should be granted, vitiated the decision of the Regional Transport Authority as this was an extranenous or irrelevant consideration. Sinha J, was also unable to accept the argument of the Regional Transport Authority which was advanced in that case to the effect that Section 47 of the Motor Vehicles Act was not exhaustive and the learned Judge also differed from the view taken by the Rajasthan High Court and expressed in the case reported in Dhol-pur Co-operative Transport and Multipurpose Union Ltd. v. Appellate Authority, Rajasthan, AIR 1955 Raj 19 at P. 27. (B). Wanchoo C. J. who delivered the judgment made the following observation :
'Section 47 lays down the general conditions regard will be paid to which in granting or refusing a stage carriage permit. These conditions, are not necessarily exhaustive 'in details and in deciding between one applicant and another. The Regional Transport Authority or the Appellate Authority may well consider other allied matters.'
6. It appears to me that the words 'shall have regard to' in Section 47 imply that the section is not exhaustive. 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. The Privy Council in the case of Ryots of Garabandho v. Zamindar of Parlakimedi , has explained the implication of the words 'having regard, to' In the following terms :
'The view taken by the majority of the Collective Board of Revenue in making the order dated October 19, 1936, which is how complained of is that the requirement to 'have regard to' the provisions in question has no more definite or technical meaning than that of ordinary usages and only requires that these provisions must be taken into consideration.....This view of the effect of the direction 'to have regard to' the provisions of the Act for determining rates of rent payable by a Ryot is supported by the decision of the High Court in Valluri Narasingha Rao v. Ryots of Peddamamidipalli : AIR1926Mad480 .....Their Lordships find themselves in this matter in agreement with the view taken by the majority of the Collective Board (pp. 168-169 of Ind App): (p. 180 of AIR).'
8. This Court in the case of the Province of Bengal v. Pran Kissen Law & Co., : AIR1950Cal498 , in construing the expression 'shall have regard to the provisions of Section 23 (1) of the Land Acquisition Act' as used in Section 19 (1) (e) of the Defence of India Act has observed as follows :
'This requirement only implies that the provisions of the Land Acquisition Act must be taken into consideration. It does not mean that the Arbitrator is strictly bound by the terms of Section 23(1) of the Land Acquisition Act.'
9. The Madras High Court in the case of Ramayya v. State of Madras : AIR1952Mad300 , has also adopted this interpretation in construing this very Section 47 of the Motor Vehicles Act. It was held in this case that there is no inhibition against the taking into consideration ' all matters other than the consideration specified in the section. All that the direction necessitates is that the matters specified should not be left out of account Govinda Menon J. who delivered the Judgment in that case relied on some of the earlier decisions of the Madras, High Court and also on the decision of the Judicial Committee as reported in . The Rajasthan High Court as pointed out already has also taken the same view about Section 47 in AIR 1955 Raj. 19 (B). The Ajmer High Court has also followed Rajasthan High Court in the case reported in Yagsen Ram Prashad Khewat v. Chief Commissioner, Ajmer, AIR 1956 Ajmer 41 (G) (paragraph 23 of the judgment).
10. In view of these decisions I am inclined to hold that Section 47 of the Motor Vehicles Act is not exhaustive and the Regional Transport Authority can take into consideration other matters which are allied or germane to the question to be decided.
11. The next question is whether the fact that the Respondent No. 5 is a political sufferer and is badly in need of some provisions can be said to be a consideration which is germane to the question to be decided. I am unable to see how it can be so regarded. In my view, such matters are quite foreign to the subject under consideration and is a totally extraneous and irrelevant consideration. It has been held by the English Courts and the same view is also shared by the Courts in India that if a statutory body is actuated by any extraneous and irrelevant consideration in giving effect to the provisions of the statute under which such statutory body is created, then such an act will be regarded as one done in excess of jurisdiction Reference may be made to the case of Rex v. Board of Education, (1910) 2 KB 165 at p. 179 ,(H), Parweii L. J. observed as follows :
'If the tribunal has exercised the discretion entrusted to it bona fide, not influenced by extraneous or irrelevant consideration and not arbitrarily or illegally, the Courts cannot Interfere; they are not a Court of appeal from the tribunal but they have power to prevent, the intentional usurpation or mistaken assumption of a jurisdiction beyond that given to the tribunal by law and also the refusal of their true jurisdiction by the adoption of extraneous considerations in arriving at their conclusion or deciding a point other than that brought before them, in which cases the Courts have regarded them as declining jurisdiction. Such tribunal is not an autocrat free to act as it pleases but is an inferior tribunal subject to the jurisdiction which the Court of King's Bench for centuries and the High Courts since the Judicature Acts have exercised over such tribunals.'
12. Majumdar has however pointed, out that the Regional Transport Authority has given 8 reasons for granting permit in favour of respondent No. 5; so even if one of the reasons is extraneous, the decision or order of the Regional Trans-port Authority is not vitiated if any of the other reasons can be considered as cogent and can validly support the decision or order arrived at. It is to be noted however that there is nothing before the Court to show how far or to what extent this extraneous consideration as to the respondent No. 5 being a political sufferer and needs some provisions to be made in his favour had actually influenced the decision of the Regional Transport Authority. Whether this fact dominated the mind of the Regional Transport Authority or not cannot be tested by any objective standard. It is possible that absence of this consideration might have led the Regional Transport Authority to decide in a different way notwithstanding that the other reasons mentioned by them as having bearing on the case of the respondent No. 5 were there In the case of Keshav Talpade v King Emperor , Gwyer C. J. observed as follows :
'If a detaining authority gives four reasons for detaining a man, without distinguishing between them, and any two or three of the reasons are held to be bad it can never be certain to what extent the bad reasons operated on the mind of the authority or whether the detention order would have been made at all if only one or two good reasons had been before them'.
13. Mr. Majumdar has referred to a recent decision of the Supreme Court in the case of Dwarka Das Bhatia v. State of Jammu and Kashmir, : 1957CriLJ316 in which reference was made to the observation in Keshav Talpade v. King Emperor (I), quoted above and the Supreme Court summarised the principle in the following terms :
'The principle underlying all these decisions Is this. Where power is vested in a statutory authority to deprive the liberty of a subject on its subjective satisfaction with reference to specified matters, if that satisfaction is stated to be based on a number of grounds or for a variety of reasons all taken together, and if some out of them are found to be non-existent or irrelevant the very exercise of that power is bad. That is so because the matter being one for subjective satisfaction it must be properly based on all the reasons on which it purports to be based. If some out of them are found to be non-existent or irrelevant, the Court cannot predicate what the subjective satisfaction of the said authority would have been on the exclusion of those grounds or reasons. To uphold the validity of such an order in spite of the invalidity of some of the reasons or grounds would be to substitute the objective standard of the Court for the subjective satisfaction of the statutory authority. In applying these principles however the Court must be satisfied that the vague or irrelevant grounds are such as, if excluded, might reasonably have affected the subjective satisfaction or the appropriate authority. It is not merely because some ground or reason of a comparatively unessential nature is defective that such an order based on subjective satisfaction can be held to be Invalid. The Court while anxious to safeguard the personal liberty of the individual will not lightly interfere with such orders'.
14. In this case however the Supreme Court was unable to hold that the extraneous reasons were of an unessential nature and accordingly the Supreme Court set aside the order of detention as bad.
15. Mr. Majumdar has argued relying on the principle enunciated by the Supreme Court that the ground of the respondent No. 5 being a political sufferer is a reason of an unessential nature. As I have pointed out already it is not possible to come to such a conclusion from the materials which are before the Court. If this consideration was of an unessential nature then it is difficult to see why such a ground was at all mentioned in the order itself. As I have pointed out already it is not possible to guage as to how far this consideration had actuated the Regional Transport Authority in making a decision in favour of respondent No. 5 and in my view therefore the order of the Regional Transport Authority dated the 6th of January, 1956 must be held to be an invalid order based as it is on extraneous consideration.
16. It is to be noted further that the reasons given in this order dated the 6th of January, 1956 for refusing the application of the petitioner company and other applicants for permits did not satisfy the requirement of Section 57 (7) of the Act. The reasons are given in a roiled up manner in respect of a group of applications. The individual cases are not dealt with separately. In other words the reasons are jumbled together. An applicant is not in a position to ascertain as to which particular reasons have been applied to his case for rejecting his application and he is thus hampered in the matter of his preferring an appeal against the order under Section 64 of the Act not knowing which case he has to make before the Appellate Authority.
17. Although the order of the Regional Transport Authority suffers from these infirmities it appears that in the appeal which was preferred by the petitioner against this order of the Regional Transport Authority dated the 6th January, 1956 such order was not challenged on the ground of this extraneous consideration or on the ground of the reasons being lumped up together and not being in accordance with Section 57 (7) of the Motor Vehicles Act. Mr. Dutt has however suggested that the grounds 3, 4 and 5 of the grounds set out in the petition of appeal before the Appellate Sub-Committee covered this ground of extraneous consideration and it is further stated by him that this ground was argued before the Appellate Authority, Mr. Purnendu Sekhar Bose who appeared on behalf of Respondent No. 5 and who also appeared before the Appellate Sub-Committee at the hearing of the appeal has however stated that as far as he remembers no such point was argued before The Appellate Authority. The order of the Appellate Authority dated 21st May, 1956 does not on the face of it show that any such point was agitated before the Appellate Authority. The order itself does not deal with any such ground or matter but it may be pointed out that the order passed by the Appellate Sub-Committes dated the 21st May, 1956 does not appear to be of an exhaustive nature. It rather gives the impression that it is of a scrappy nature not dealing methodically with the points which were argued before the said Sub-Committee. If no such ground of challenge was actually taken before the Appellate Sub-Committee it is clear that the petitioner should not be normally allowed to agitate such question in a proceeding under Article 226 of the Constitution. The law on the point appears to be fairly settled. In the case of Gandhinagar Motor Transport Society v. State of Bombay, : AIR1954Bom202 , it has been held that a party may by his conduct preclude himself from claiming a Writ of Certiorari ex debito justitiae no matter the proceedings which he seeks to quash are void or voidable. If it is open to a party to raise a point before a Tribunal whose order is being challenged, but such point is not raised at all before the Tribunal, the party should not be allowed to challenge the order by agitating the point in a proceeding for the issue of a Writ. In Halsbury's Laws of England Vol. 11, 3rd Edition, pages 140-141, paragraph 265, it is pointed out that an order for issue of a Writ of Certiorari will be granted ex debito justitiae if the conduct of the party applying has not been such as to disentitle him to relief. The same principle has also been applied in the cases of Harihar Tewari v. State, : AIR1952All489 (L) and Syed Mo-hammad & Co. v. State of Madras, : AIR1953Mad105 (M). So, if the petitioner company did not really raise this point before the Appellate Authority (and I am inclined to hold though not without some doubt that it did not) the petitioner must be held on the principles enunciated in the cases referred to above, that it has precluded itself from attacking the order of the Regional Transport Authority dated the 6th January, 1956 on any of such grounds or points, in this application under Article 226 of the Constitution.
18. It has also been argued by Mr. Majumdar that the petitioner having appealed from the order of the Regional Transport Authority under Section 64 of Motor Vehicles Act and having courted an adverse order from the Appellate Authority cannot now proceed to attack the order of the Regional Transport Authority in these proceedings under Article 226 of the Constitution. The petitioner can only attack the order of the Appellate Authority dated the 21st May, 1956 and this Court can grant relief if the Court is satisfied that there is in such appellate order any error apparent on the face of it or the order is tainted with any illegality on the face of it. Reliance is placed on a decision of this Court reported in Kanai Lal Sethi v Collector of Land Customs, Calcutta, 60 Cal WN 1042 (N), where Chakravartti C. J. laid down the following proposition :
'It is quite true that the existence of an alternative remedy is not an absolute bar to a recourse to Article 226 of the Constitution, but this Court has always held that if a party has availed himself of the ordinary remedies provided for by a special Act, he cannot thereafter turn round and begin once again from the bottom by challenging the original order under Article 226 of the Constitution.....In my view, a person affected by an order against which certain remedies are provided by the ordinary law ought to make a choice at the initial point of time when he is free to go either way namely either along the path chalked out in the Constitution or along the path chalked out in the relevant Act. If he makes his choice in favour of the remedies under the relevant Act and takes advantage of them up to the last, he cannot be allowed to return to the point at which he began his journey and begin it again in another direction along the line LAID down in the Constitution. That is the view which this Court has al-ways held and to that, view I would adhere. It must, however, be added that if the error or illegality occurred for the first time in the order or judgment of an appellate Court and it is the appellate Court's decision which is challenged on that ground, an application for a writ or order under Art, 226 in respect of that decision shall lie'.
19. This authority is binding- on me. It is also to be noted that in the case reported in : AIR1956Cal490 , it was the order of the Regional Transport Authority alone which was challenged in an application under Article 226 of the Constitution. In that case no appeal had been preferred against the order of the Regional Transport Authority to the State Transport Authority.
20. So the further question that now arises for consideration is whether the petitioner has made out grounds for quashing the order of the Appellate Sub-Committee. Mr. Dutt has argued that the order of the Appellate Authority is bad on the face of it inasmuch as the Appellate Authority has obviously misunderstood and misapplied Rule 57 (a) of the Motor Vehicles Rules to the facts and circumstances of the present case. It is pointed out that under Rule 57 (a) the question of one applicant being a permit-holder and the other applicant being a non-permit-holder becomes relevant only when 'the other conditions are equal'. The Appellate Authority has found that the Regional Transport Authority in making the order dated the 6th January, 1956 did not apply their mind or direct their attention to Rule 57 (a). Further the Appellate Authority has assumed that as between the petitioner and the applicant Bankim Chandra Samanta (respondent No. 5) the other conditions were equal although the Regional Transport Authority has given rolled up reasons in their orders and they have made specific mention of the ground of the Respondent No. 5 being a political sufferer. It is clear that the petitioner company is not a person of this description nor can it be as a company described as such. It is therefore argued by Mr. Dutt that the assumption of the fact that 'other conditions were equal' is not warranted and there is an obvious error committed by the Appellate Authority in applying Rule 57 (a) to the facts of this case. It appears from the manner in which the whole thing has been dealt with by the Appellate Sub-Committee that the latter has mechanically quoted the words of Rule 57 (a) in its order and did not properly consider this aspect of the matter as to whether the other conditions as between the petitioner and the respondent No. 5 were equal or not. The contention of Mr. Dutt therefore appears to have substance in it and in my view the order of the Appellate Authority, cannot be sustained.
21. It may also be pointed out that in an application for a Writ of Certiorari the existence of an alternative remedy is not a very relevant consideration. The proceeding or order of an inferior Tribunal can be quashed if there is excess of jurisdiction or want of jurisdiction or there is any error apparent on the face of the record (Halsbury, Vol. 11. 3rd Edition, page 130 paragraph 239; page 115, paragraph 213 (case of Writ of Prohibition); page 107 paragraph 200 (case of Writ of Mandamus where alternative remedy is a relevant consideration) ; (see also case of Nalini Ranjan Guha v. Annada Sankar Roy. : AIR1952Cal112 , where some of the relevant cases have been collected.)
22. It was further argued bv Mr. Butt that Rule 57 (a) of the Motor Vehicles Rules is ultra vires the Constitution inasmuch: as it violates Article 14 of the Constitution. He submitted that the Rule is ex facie discriminatory and therefore should be condemned as void. Reference is made to State of West Bengal v. Anwar Ali, : 1952CriLJ510 ; V. G. Row v. State of Madras, : AIR1951Mad147 ; Sheosankar v. State Govt. of Madhya Pradesh, AIR 1951 Nag 58 at p. 87 para 195 (R); C. S. S. Motor Service, Tenkasi v State of Madras, : AIR1953Mad279 .
23. It is to be noted however that the Supreme Court has pointed out repeatedly that class legislation is permissible under the Constitution of India and that Article 14 of the Constitution only prohibits unequal treatment of persons similarly situated, Kishan Singh v. State of Rajasthan, : 2SCR531 ; also State of Bombay v P. N. Balsara, AIR 1951 SC 318 (U). It may be pointed out that the effect of Rule 57 (a) is that it discriminates between two separate classes--permit-holders and non-permit-holders who, are thus not similarly situated. Moreover, the object of the Rule appears to be to prevent monopoly and to distribute the business of plying buses among different citizens. So the classification is on a reasonable or rational basis. In the circumstances It appears to me that Rule 57 (a) is not void as infringing Article 14 of the Constitution.
24. It is further argued by Mr. Dutt that inviting of fresh applications by the Regional Transport Authority after the earlier order of the Regional Transport Authority dated 25th of February 1954 was set aside by the State Transport Authority on 16th August 1954 with directions to dispose of the matter according to law, was without jurisdiction and so the whole proceeding resulting in the orders of the Regional Transport Authority dated 6th January 1956 and of the Appellate Sub-committee dated 16-8-1956 is nullity. But it is to be noted that in response to the invitation for fresh application the petitioner company made a fresh application for permit and it appeared before the Regional Transport Authority at the hearing of this application along with other applications for permit, and it thus submitted to the jurisdiction of the Regional Transport Authority. But when an adverse order was made by the Regional Transport Authority against the petitioner the latter challenged the order on the ground of this illegality in the matter of inviting fresh applications and also on other grounds. I do not see why the Regional Transport Authority could not start the proceedings de novo as they did in this case. The order of the Appellate Authority dated 16th August 1956 was not very clear on the point as the order of the Appellate sub-committee dated 21st of May 1956 (See annexure M) is. That last order specifically directs disposal of the matter having regard to the applications for permits already received by the Regional Transport Authority. The earlier order dated 16th August 1956 was not specific on this point. So it is possible that the Regional Transport Authority had misconstrued the order dated 16th August 1956 and in the absence of any specific direction of the Appellate Authority contained in that order, the Regional Transport Authority exercised its discretion to start proceedings de novo and to invite fresh applications. In the circumstances, it appears to be that this Court will not be Justified in the exercise of its discretionary power under Article 226 of the Constitution to quash the proceedings initiated by the invitation of fresh applications, as asked for by the petitioners.
25. The other point argued by Mr. Dutt was that the order for surrender of the permit dated 17/19th September 1955 (Annexure A) was bad. Mr. Dutt referred to Sections 58 and 60 of the Motor Vehicles Act and Rule 78 (b) of the Motor Vehicles Rules and paragraphs 7 and 23 of the Counter-affidavit, Reliance is also placed on the case reported in United Fruit Co. Ltd., Shillong v. Sree Lakshmi Motor Transport Co Ltd. : AIR1945Cal260 . Mr. Dutt has submitted that as there is no proper cancellation on the permit in terms of the provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act, the order of surrender is void. But it is to be noted that the order of 25th of February 1954 was set aside by the Appellate Authority's order dated 16th August 1956. Bo the order granting permit having been set aside, the petitioner had no valid permit to ply the buses and so it was in the fitness of things that the petitioner would surrender the permit which was no longer an effective permit. If it was otherwise then the procedure for appeal contemplated by Section 64 of the Act, becomes nugatory. If the position is that once a permit is granted it cannot be revoked for three years unless the conditions prescribed in Section 60 of the Motor Vehicles Act exist then the aggrieved person whose application is rejected is denied altogether the relief contemplated by Section 64. This does not appear to be the spirit or intendment of the Act. If the order granting the permit is set aside it logically follows that the permit granted under that order ceases to be operative or to be in force. The permit-holder can then legitimately be asked to surrender such a permit. Such a case is not really a case of cancellation as is' contemplated by Section 60 of the Act.
26. In view however of my finding that Rule 57 (a) of the Motor Vehicles Rules has not been properly applied by the Appellate Sub-committee to the facts and circumstances of this case, the order dated 21st of May 1956 must be quashed but it appears to me that merely quashing the order of the Appellate Sub-committee will not give any real relief to the petitioner if the order of the Regional Transport Authority dated 6th of January 1956 is allowed to stand. In other words, an order for the issue of a Writ, of Certiorari to quash the order of the 21st May 1956 alone, will be an infructuous order. So, in my view, this Court should in the special facts of this case where the ordar of the Regional Transport Authority has been found to be on the face of it an illegal order and an order made in excess of jurisdiction, also quash that order of the Regional Transport Authority dated 6th of January 1956.
27. In the result, this Rule is made absolute and the orders dated 6th of January, 1956 and 21st of May 1955 mentioned in the petition are quashed and a Writ, in the nature of Certiorari quashing the said orders will be issued therefor.
28. There will be no order as to costs.
29. Let the operation of this order be stayed for six weeks from date. In the mean time if the Respondent No. 5 so desires he can prefer an appeal against this order.