Kishanchand Narsinghdas Bhatia Vs.
State Transport Authority & Ors  INSC 86 (28 March 1968)
28/03/1968 GROVER, A.N.
HIDAYATULLAH, M. (CJ) BACHAWAT, R.S.
CITATION: 1968 AIR 1461 1968 SCR (3) 605
F 1978 SC 949 (2,5)
Constitution of India, 1950, Art. 136Decision
on question of fact by State Transport Authorities-Interference by Supreme
Court in appeal by special leave.
The Regional Transport Authority renewed a
stage carriage permit in favour of the appellant The State Transport Appellate
Authority set aside the order in appeal, and granted the permit to the 3rd
respondent. One of the considerations that prevailed with the Appellate
Authority was that the 3rd respondent had offered to put into service an air
cooled 1965-model vehicle. The order of the Appellate Authority was confirmed
by the High Court in a writ petition.
In appeal to this Court under Art. 136, it
was contended that after the renewal of the permit in his favour by the R.T.A.
the appellant acquired a 1966-model bus which would have been equally
serviceable; but this fact of acquisition of a new bus was not relied upon by
the appellant before the Appellate Authority. It was also contended that the
appellant was entitled to preference in the matter of renewal on the facts
established in the present case.
HELD : This Court would be reluctant to
interfere with or disturb the decision of specially constituted authorities or
tribunals under the Motor Vehicles Act, especially when the legislature has
entrusted the task of granting or renewing the stage carnage permits to such
authorities which are expected to be fully conversant with the procedure and
practice and the matters relevant under the provisions of the Act. This Court
will not decide a matter brought before it by special leave, under Art. 136, as
if it were an appellate court. It will not examine or review findings of fact
unless it can be shown that they are perverse or shocking to the judicial conscience.
The power being of an exceptional and overriding nature has to be exercised
sparingly and with caution and only in special and extraordinary situations
when justice so requires. [608 F-H; 609 A-B].
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION : Civil Appeal
No. 740 of 1968.
Appeal by special leave from the judgment
-and order dated December 19, 1967 of the Madhya Pradesh High Court in Misc.
Petition No. 225 of 1967.
M. C. Chagla, G. L. Sanghi and A. G.
Ratnaparkhi, for the appellant.
S. V. Gupte and S. K. Gambhir for respondent
The Judgment of the Court was delivered by
Grover, J. Ibis appeal by special leave is from the judgment of the High Court
of Madhya Pradesh dismissing a petition filed under Arts. 226 & 227 of the
Constitution challenging an 606 order made by the State Transport Appellate
Authority in respect of a stage carriage permit for the route, DigthanIndore
via Ghata Billod.
The appellant had applied for renewal of his
stage carriage permit for that route. Respondent No. 3 and another person of
the name of Balwantrao Gaikwad and the Madhya Pradesh Road Transport
Corporation filed applications for grant of a fresh permit for the same route.
As the application of Balwantrao Gaikwad was not ripe for hearing and the
Corporation withdrew its application, the Regional Transport Authority
considered the rival claims of the appellant and respondent No. 3. The latter
made an offer at the hearing that he would run an air-cooled 1965 model
vehicle. The Transport Authority, however, took the view that the offer had
been made by way of a competitive bid. In its opinion both the applicants were
at par in the matter of coverage and adverse remarks, but the appellant was
superior in experience and provision of facilities for passengers. The permit
of the appellant was renewed for a period of three years from the date of its
expiry on the existing terms.
Respondent No. 3 preferred an appeal under s.
64 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1939 (hereinafter referred to as the Act) which
was disposed of by the State Transport Appellate Authority. The Appellate
Authority gave weight to the fact that whereas respondent No. 3 had offered to
run an air cooled vehicle of 1965 model, no such offer had been made by the
appellant who was operating the route with a vehicle of 1957 model. It further
found that the appellant had not been running the bus on the kachha portion of
the road during the rainy season in the years 1962 and 1963. This was taken to
amount to "adverse record of considerable significance" against the
appellant. The Appellate Authority therefore decided that respondent No. 3 was
entitled to the grant of the permit as against the renewal of the permit in
favour of the appellant. It made a direction that a permit be issued to
respondent No. 3 for a period of three years provided be put into service an
air cooled vehicle within four months.
The appellant moved the High Court by means
of a writ petition. It appears from the order of the Division Bench that the
following points were pressed on behalf of the appellant : (1) Respondent No. 3
had not applied for the grant of a fresh permit for the same route for which
renewal had been applied for by the appellant. (2) The Appellate Authority had
taken into account an extraneous consideration when it regarded respondent No.
3's offer of operating an air-cooled bus as giving material superiority. (3)
The finding that the appellant had been guilty of non-maintenance having not
operated service on the kachha section of the route during the rainy season for
two years was not well-founded.
607 (4)The Appellate Authority did not give
due weight to all the relevant considerations.
The High Court found that the Appellate
Authority had rightly regarded the application of respondent No. 3 as one made
for the same route and that the offer of operating an aircooled bus was a
perfectly relevant consideration and could not be regarded as extraneous vide :
Samrathmal v. State Transport Appellate Authority & Ors(1). It was further
of the opinion that the Appellate Authority had rightly not accepted the
explanation of the appellant that the kachha section of the route was not
operable during the rainy season, because respondent No. 3, who held a permit
for Indore-Digthan route (which was the same as the DigthanIndore route), had maintained
the service even during the rainy season without finding it risky to do so. The
High Court repelled the last contention raised before it by relying on Sri Rama
Vilas Service (P) Ltd. v. C. Chandrasekaran & Others(2) according to which
it was for the Transport Authority to appreciate how public interest would be
best served and in doing so it was entitled to take the view that one
consideration was more likely to effectuate it than the other.
Mr. S. V. Gupte for respondent No. 3 sought
to ask for revocation of the special leave on the ground that it had been
obtained by a misstatement of material facts, but it is alto,-ether unnecessary
to go into that matter as this appeal cannot succeed for other reasons.
Mr. M. C. Chagla for the appellant laid a
great deal of emphasis on the acquisition of a vehicle of 1966 model by the
appellant after the renewal of his permit had been ordered by the Regional
Transport Authority. It was pointed out that respondent No. 3 had been hitherto
running a vehicle of 1957 model and had only made an offer to put into service
an air-cooled 1965 model vehicle at the time of hearing.
According to Mr. Chagla the 1966 model
vehicle would have been equally, if not more, convenient and serviceable and it
was wholly unjust to deprive the appellant of the permit which he had held for
the past several years. He further sought to attack the finding of the
Appellate Authority about the adverse record of the appellant and the route for
which the application for the permit had been made by the contending parties.
Finally, he forcefully raised the question whether under the second proviso to
sub-s. (2) of s. 58 of the Act, the appellant was entitled to preference in the
matter of renewal on the facts established in the present case. According to
him the appellant's permit should have been renewed, although it was open to
the Authority concerned to impose a condition under cl. (ix) (1) C.A. 503 of
1965 decided on 25th August 1965.
(2)  5 S.C.R. 869.
608 of sub-s. (3) of s. 48 of the Act that
the appellant should acquire an air-cooled bus within a specified period. It
was maintained that the High Court failed to approach a consideration of the
case by keeping in view the aforesaid provisions of the Act which were of
It may be mentioned that the second proviso
to sub-s. (2) of S. 58 of the Act is to the effect that other conditions being
equal an application for renewal shall be given preference over new
applications for permits. According to sub-s. (3)(ix) of S. 48 of the Act the
Regional Transport Authority while granting the permit may attach the
condition, among other conditions, that vehicles of specified types fitted with
bodies, conforming to approved specifications shall be used.
It is significant that the acquisition of a
1966 model bus by the appellant found no mention in the order of the Appellate
Authority which would show that either that fact was not brought to its notice
or was not stressed before it.
The findings or conclusions on questions of
fact could hardly be re-examined or disturbed by the High Court since the
decision rendered by the appropriate authority under the Act could not be
interfered with under Art. 226 unless the well recognised tests in that behalf
were satisfied vide :
Sri Ram Vilas Service(1).
The other question which according to Mr.
Chagla is of wide importance and relates to the scope and ambit of the second
proviso to s. 58(2) of the Act does not appear to have been canvassed before
the High Court and has not been raised in an appropriate manner in the petition
for special leave and even in the additional grounds sought to be introduced by
means of Civil Misc. Petition No. 934 of 1968. We did not permit Mr. Chagla to
address us at any length on the point.
In cases of the present kind this Court would
be naturally reluctant to interfere with or disturb the decision of specially
constituted authorities or tribunals under the Act, especially when the
legislature has entrusted the task of granting or renewing the stage carriage
permits to the aforesaid authorities or tribunals which are expected to be
fully conversant with the procedure and practice and the relevant matters which
should engage their attention under the provisions contained in the Act.
The present case has not been shown to
contain any such infirmity as would justify interference under Art. 136 of the
Constitution. The limitation on the exercise of power under that Article cannot
be defined with any precision; but -as observed in Dhakeswari Cotton Mills Ltd.
v. Commissioner of Income tax, West Bengal(1) the power being of an exceptional
and overriding nature it has to be exercised sparingly and with caution and
only in special ( 1)  5 S.C.R.869.
(2)  1 S.C.R. 941.
609 aid extraordinary situations. It is well
known by now that this Court will not decide a matter brought before it by
special leave is if it were an appeal court and examine or review findings of
fact unless it can be shown that they are perverse or are such as are shocking
to judicial conscience or the like, the paramount consideration always being
the perpetuation of justice.
For all these reasons, this appeal must fail
and is dismissed with costs.
V.P.S. Appeal dismissed.