Transport Corporation Ltd. Coimbatore. Vs.
Regional Transport Authority Coimbatore & Ors  INSC 105 (19 January 1996)
B.N. (J) Kirpal B.N. (J) Verma, Jagdish Saran (J) Kirpal, J.
1996 AIR 1180 1996 SCC (7) 343 JT 1996 (1) 597 1996 SCALE (1)397
challenge in these appeals by special leave is to the common judgment of the
Madras High Court in Civil Revision Petition Nos. 1852-1854 & 1886 of 1982
which set aside the order of the State Transport Appellate Tribunal (which in
turn confirmed the order of the Regional Transport Authority) (hereinafter
referred to as 'the Tribunal') granting stage carriage permits to the
all these appeals involve a common question of law, it is sufficient to give in
detail the facts relating to the case of respondent No. 2 N.T. Arasu.
No. 2 was an existing operator for the route Coimbatore to Kottur. On the expiry of the permit, it applied for
renewal for a further period of five years w.e.f. 10.4.1978. The appellant
herein, which is a State Transport Undertaking in the state of Tamilnadu made a
counter application for the grant of a stage carriage permit for the said route
in its favour.
Regional Transport Authority applying its marking system, determined the marks
as 11 marks for the appellant herein and 6 marks for respondent No. 2 which was
a private operator. The said Authority, accordingly, rejected the renewal
application of Respondent No. 2 and granted the permit in favour of the appellant.
Tribunal vide its order dated 31.3.1982, while dismissing the appeal filed by
respondent No. 2 upheld the grant of a stage carriage permit in favour of the
appellant, after considering various questions involved on merits. It came to
the conclusion that the grant of the stage carriage permit in favour of the
appellant was in the public interest.
aggrieved by the aforesaid order, the respondent filed Revision Petition before
the Madras High Court and, by virtue of the interim orders which were passed,
both the respondent No. 2 as well as the appellant herein continued to ply
their vehicles on the route in question.
said Revision Petition came up for hearing and was ultimately decided by the
judgment dated 28.8.90 of the High Court. The learned Single Judge came to the
conclusion that inasmuch as respondent No. 2 had been permitted to operate
continuously for a period of ten years along with the appellant herein, the
Revision Petition should be allowed.
not disputed that the appellant had more marks than the respondent No. 2 but
the learned Judge referred to the Dhandayuthanpani Roadways, AIR 1977 S.C. 2095
and observed that when travelling public was accustomed to a particular pattern
of service for a number of years, that should bot be disturbed lightly. It was,
accordingly, directed that the status quo or both the parties would continue,
the effect of which was that both were allowed to ply their stage carriages on
the same route.
the aforesaid judgment, it has been contended that as there was only one permit
which had to be issued the High Court erred in directing that both the
appellant and respondent No. 2 could ply their stage carriages on the same
route primarily on the ground that for a period of ten years, respondent No. 2
had been operating the said route and the travelling public had become
accustomed to it. This can be no ground, it was submitted, for the Court
directing that instead of one, both the carriers could ply their stage
decision in the case of Chinnaswamy's case (supra) was sought to be relied in
the subsequent case of S.V. Sivaswami's case (supra) also by reason of the
interim orders which were passed by the High Court, both the parties were
allowed to operate on the same route. A common request was made in this Court
that an order similar to one in M. Chinnaswamy's case (supra) be passed and
both the parties be allowed to operate on the said route. This Court in Sivaswami's
case (supra) (to which one of us was a party) referred to the observations made
in Chinnaswamy's case (supra) as well as another similar order which had been
passed in Civil Appeal No. 136 of 1980, and observed as follows:
respect, we are unable to accept this common request made to us in the present
case. It is obvious from the above quoted orders on which the common request is
based that in none of them, any point of law was considered or decided and the
order permitting both the claimants to operate on the route, even though the
permit to be granted was only one, was made without adverting to the legal
implications of such an order.
first place, grant of a permit is to be made primarily with reference to the
object of serving the interests of the general public and it cannot be treated
as a dispute relating to grant of a permit between the rival claimants only. It
is not in the nature of a lis for adjudication of conflicting interests of
private individuals alone.
therefore, not a matter which can be decided merely on the basis of an
agreement between the two rival claimants who alone out of several claimants
remain in the lis at this stage. The question of grant of permit is to be
decided primarily by the R.T.A. having regard primarily to the interests of the
general public and other prescribed relevant factors. That apart, under Section
47 (3) of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1939, the R.T.A. is first required to
determine the number of stage carriages for the route and then to grant permits
according to that determination made earlier. Grant of any permit in excess
thereof was not permissible without first making a fresh determination and
increasing the number, if necessary. It is, therefore, obvious that an order of
this kind cannot be made unless the grant of a permit to both the rival
claimants would be within the limit fixed by the R.T.A. at the relevant time.
There is nothing in any of these above quoted orders to indicate that this
aspect was even adverted to or that there was material to indicate that the
consent order so made was within the limit fixed by the R.T.A." In this
case the grant of permit to respondent No. 2 is challenged by the appellant. In
Chinnaswamy's case (supra) it was a consent order which was passed but that
consent of the parties is lacking in the present case. Apart from that, there
was only one permit which was to be given and the Regional Transport Authority
and the Tribunal, having determined that the marks of the appellant were more
than that of respondent No. 2, had rightly come to the conclusion that the
route could be awarded only to the appellant.
the ratio of Sivaswami's case (supra), it must be held that the mere fact that
the travelling public had been using the carriages run by the appellant and the
respondent No. 2 can, by itself, not be a ground for following the said
respondent to continue to ply the carriages.
for the respondent then submitted that the respondent No. 2 has been granted
renewal of the permit upto 6.11.1996. While referring to Section 10 of the
Tamil Nadu Motor Vehicles (Special Provisions) Act, 1992, it was sought to be
contended that because of the said provision, there can be no challenge to the
permit of the said respondent which has now been renewed. The said Section 10
reads as under:
anything continued in Chapter V or VI including Section 98 of the Motor
Vehicles Act, 1988 all orders passed granting permits or renewal or transfer of
such permits or any variation, modification, extension or curtailment of the
route or routes specified in a stage carriage permit during the period
commencing on the 4th day of June 1976 and ending with the date of the
publication of this Act in the Tamil Nadu Government Gazette, shall for all
purposes be deemed to be and to have always been taken or passed in accordance
with the provisions of this Act as if this Act had been in force at all
material times." We fail to appreciate as to how the said provision can be
of any assistance to the said respondent. All that Section 10 provides is that
the orders passed granting permits or renewal etc. under the provisions of
Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 are deemed to have been passed in accordance with the
provisions of the Tamil Nadu Motor Vehicles (Special Provisions) Act, 1992. The
said Section 10 does not validate any permit which was initially invalid. It is
a provision which continues the permits etc. which had been validly granted
under the old Act. As no valid permit could have been granted to respondent No.
2 from the route Coimbatore to Kottur, the provisions of
Section 10 cannot give a right to the respondent No. 2 to get the permit when
it had only six marks. When there was only one permit to be given for the said
route and the marks obtained by the appellant were much more than that of
respondent in our opinion, the appellant Tribunal had rightly upheld the order
of the Regional Transport Authority granting the stage carriage permit to the
appellant and in not renewing the permit of the respondent No. 2.
the aforesaid reasons, these appeals are allowed and the judgment of the Madras
High Court in C.R.P. Nos.1852-54 and 1856 of 1982 which is under appeal, is set
aside and the decision dated 31.3.1982 of the Tribunal is restored. The
appellant will be entitled to costs throughout.