The petitioner is a registered owner of an autorickshaw described in Ext.P1 certificate at registration. He applied for a fresh contract carriage permit to operate the autorickshaw in North Paravur town with parking place at Kannankulangara junction. By Ext.P3 order dated 21.1.2011, the Joint Regional Transport Officer, North Paravur who is also the Secretary of the Regional Transport Authority, Ernakulam at North Paravur rejected the application. Hence this Writ Petition challenging Ext.P3 and seeking a direction to the second respondent to dispose of the application afresh after holding a proper enquiry and with notice to the petitioner. The main ground raised in the Writ Petition is that before Ext.p3 order was passed the petitioner was not heard or put on notice. It is also contended that the Paravur Municipality is not empowered to place any restriction on the number of permits to be issued and before Ext.P3 order was passed no proper enquiry was conducted.
2. I heard Sri. C. Chandrasekharan, learned counsel appearing for the petitioner, Sri. Ajith Prakash, learned standing counsel appearing for the first respondent and Smt. Anitha Ravindran, learned Government Pleader appearing for the second respondent. The impugned order reads as follows:
“Referring to the above Sri. Satheesan has applied for the grant of fresh Contract Carriage permit in respect of Autorickshaw bearing Registration Mark KL 07 W 5652 with parking place at Kannankulangara Junction at N. Paravur. The said junction is within the North Paravur Municipal limits. A Co-ordination Committee is functioning at North Paravur under the Chairmanship of the Municipal Chairman and other concerned persons as members. The Committee held on 11.12.2007 at the chamber of Municipal Chairperson, has limited the number of permits allowable to each autorickshaw stand within town limits. Sufficient number of permits were already issued at Kannankulangara Junction and it is not possible to allow any further permit with parking place at Kannankulangara Junction.
In the above circumstances the application for the grant of permit with parking place at Kannankulangara Junction is herewith rejected”.
3. The petitioner has positively averred in the Writ Petition that before it was passed he was not put on notice. The said averment is not disputed or denied by the second respondent. That apart, an application for contract carriage permit can be considered and disposed of only by the Regional Transport Authority, and not by its Secretary. I am therefore of the opinion that Ext.P3 order cannot be sustained. Though the learned counsel appearing for the first respondent contended with reference to S.472 of the Kerala Municipalities Act that the Municipality can insist that restrictions should be imposed on the number of permits issued with halting place in the cart stand provided by it, I am of the opinion that the said contention is without any merit. Under the Explanation to S.472 of the Kerala Municipalities Act an autorickshaw stand is also included within the definition of the term cart stand. S.472 of the Kerala Municipalities Act stipulates that a Municipality may subject to such guidelines as the government may issue, construct or provide public landing places, halting places and cart stand and may levy fees for the use of the same. S.472 does not in my opinion empower the local authority to say that its views regarding the number of permits to be issued under the Motor Vehicles Act are binding on the Regional Transport Authority. S.117 of the Motor Vehicles Act also does not empower the local authority to contend that it has a say in the number of permits which can be issued. S.117 of the Motor Vehicles Act and S.475 of the Kerala Municipalities Act deal only with parking places and halting stations and not with number of permits. I am therefore of the opinion that the stand taken by the second respondent in Ext.P3 cannot be sustained.
I accordingly allow the Writ Petition, quash Ext.P3 and direct the Regional Transport Authority, Ernakulam at North Paravur to take up the application submitted by the petitioner for a contract carriage permit, issue notice to the petitioner and pass appropriate orders thereon in accordance with law, expeditiously and in any event within two months from the date of which the petitioner produces a certified copy of this judgment before the second respondent.