Ram Autar Lal Jain Vs. Minister of
Transport & Ors  INSC 221 (28 November 1973)
BEG, M. HAMEEDULLAH BEG, M. HAMEEDULLAH
MATHEW, KUTTYIL KURIEN
CITATION: 1974 AIR 326 1974 SCR (2) 514 1974
SCC (1) 305
D 1974 SC1274 (9,13)
Motor Vehicles Act (4 of 1939),-Application
for permit-Death of applicant--If legal representative can prosecute
Upon the death of an applicant for a stage
carriage permit under Chap. IV of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1939, before his
application bad been considered by Regional Transport Authority, the heirs or
legal representatives of the applicant do not have the right to step into the
shoes of the deceased applicant and prosecute the application filed by him.
Section 61 of the Act, deals with cases in
which a transfer of the permit held can be applied for. If it was the intention
of the legislature to provide for succession to whatever claims an applicant
for a permit has even before a permit is granted to him, it would have
similarly provided for such a situation. But neither the Motor Vehicles Act nor
the Rules made thereunder provide for the substitution of heirs to prosecute
the application of a deceased applicant for a permit. An application for a
permit, gives only the right that the merits of the applicant should be
considered vis-a-vis other applicants. These merits depend on the peculiar
position, capabilities and qualifications of the applicant which may be either
personal or peculiarly or particularly those of a concern or organisation. It
is not necessary that an heir or successor of an applicant will also have the
applicant's qualifications or capabilities with regard to a transport service
for the benefit of the public. [515H-516C; 517B-C] Dhani Devi v. Sant Bihari
& Ors.,  2 S.C.R. 507, explained.
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION : Civil Appeal
No. 2606 of 1969.
From the Judgment and Order dated the 1st
July, 1968 of the Patna High Court in C. W. J. C. No. 363 of 1968.
M.C. Chagla, K. K. Sinha, S. K. Sinha and B.
B. Sinha, for the appellant.
R. C. Prasad, for respondent Nos. 1 to 3.
S. V. Gupte, U. P. Singh and K. N. Seshav,
for respondent No. 4.
The Judgment of the Court was delivered by
BEG, J. This appeal by certificate from a judgment of the High Court at Patna
comes before us in the following circumstances : An application made by one Ram
Autar Lal Jain before the Chhotanagpur Regional Transport Authority
(hereinafter referred to as the "RTA") for grant of a stage carriage
permit on a particular route. The application was made within the time fixed.
But, before the application could be considered Ram Autar Lal Jain died leaving
one widow and two sons as his survivors, heirs and legal representatives. Ram
Autar Lal Jain's heirs formed a partnership firm called M/s. Ram Autar Lal Jain
and an application was made before the RTA for substitution of the firm in
place of Ram Autar Lal Jain deceased, the original applicant, so that the firm
could prosecute the application before the RTA. The RTA allowed the
substitution but split up the route into two parts and granted one part to the
appellant and the other part to the Respondent No. 4. The matter did not,
however, rest with the 515 decision of the RTA but was taken up in appeal
before the State Transport Authority by as many as four different parties. The
State Transport Authority set aside the order of the RTA on various grounds,
such as : (i) that, the route could not be split up-. and (ii) that, the
parties in whose favour the permit had been given bad failed to Produce the
vehicle within the time allowed by the RTA. The State Transport Authority
granted the permit to one Mangtulal Tulshiyan. It did not go into the question
of legality of substitution of the appellant firm in place of Ram Autar Lal
Jain. Four revision petitions having been :filed against this order, the
Minister concerned remanded the case to the RTA for a reconsideration after hearing
all the parties which had appeared before the RTA on April 23, 1965.
Mangtulal Tulshiyan challenged this order of
the Minister before the High Court of Patna which set it aside and directed the
Minister to rehear only the petitioners who had filed revision petitions and
not those who had not complained against the previous order before the
The Minister, on this occasion, granted the
permit in favour of Bijoy Bahadur Singh (who is respondent No. 4 in this
appeal) on the ground that he was competent and qualified and satisfied the
requirement which the RTA had laid down, that is to say, that a new-comer and a
small operator should be introduced on the relevant route and also on the
ground that Government should try to break monopolies. In the course of his
order, the Minister rejected the appellant's application for permit on two
grounds : firstly, the appellant not being an heir to Ram Autar Lal Jain,
should not have been allowed to prosecute the application before the RTA; and,
secondly, that the appellant did not satisfy the criterion set up by the RTA in
so far as the appellant was neither a new-comer nor a small operator. The
appellant took the matter to the Patna High Court by means of a writ petition.
The writ petition was summarily dismissed by the High Court.
The principal question that has arisen for
determination in this appeal is whether, upon the death of an applicant for a
stage carriage permit before his application has been considered by the
Regional Transport Authority, the heirs or legal representatives of the
applicant have the right to step into the shoes of the deceased applicant and
prosecute the application filed by him before the Regional Transport Authority.
The problem arises because there is no provision in the Motor Vehicles Act,
1939, which provides for succession to an applicant's right to prosecute his
application for a stage carriage permit before the Transport Authorities.
It is clear that, although, no person is
entitled to a permit as a matter of right, the Motor Vehicles Act has conferred
upon a person the right to make an application under Chapter IV of the Motor
Vehicles Act for any of the four types of permits dealt with in that chapter. A
person has also the right to have his application considered by the appropriate
authority in accordance with the provisions of the Act so long as he makes an
application within the prescribed time and in the prescribed form. If such an
application is made the transport authority cannot legally ignore that
application and consider other applications only. The authority could reject
the 516 application on merits. Thus, an application made for a permit under
Chapter IV of the Motor Vehicles Act gives only the right that the merits of
the applicant will be considered vis-a-vis other applicants. These merits
depend generally upon the peculiar position, capabilities, and qualifications
of an applicant which may be either personal or peculiarly or particularly
those of a concern or Organisation. It is not necessary that an heir or
successor of an applicant will also have the applicant's qualifications or
capabilities with regard to a transport service for the benefit of the public.
Probably it was for this reason that neither the Motor Vehicles Act nor the
rules made thereunder provide for the substitution of heirs to prosecute the
application of a deceased claimant for a permit.
in Dhani Devi v. Sant Bihar & Ors.(1)
this Court had to answer the question as to whether on the death of an
applicant for a stage carriage permit in respect of his transport vehicles the
Regional Transport Authority has power to allow the person succeeding to the
possession of the vehicles to prosecute the application filed by the deceased
applicant. This Court on that occasion noted that neither Order XXII of the
Code of Civil Procedure nor Section 306 of the Indian Succession Act, 1925,
have any application in such a case and also that there is no express provision
in the Motor Vehicles Act or the rules framed under the Act to deal with this
situation. This Court, however, held that if a person in possession of
transport vehicles "dies after obtaining the permit, the Regional
Transport Authority has power under Section 61(2) to transfer the permit to the
person succeeding to the possession of the vehicles covered by the permit".
In the course of the judgment in that case this Court observed there:
"We are inclined to think that in the
case of death of the applicant before the final disposal of his application for
the grant of a permit in respect of his vehicles the Regional Transport Authority
has power to substitute the person succeeding to the possession of the vehicles
in place of the deceased applicant and to allow the successor to prosecute the
application. As the relief sought for in the application is dependent upon and
related to the possession of the vehicles the application is capable of being
revived at the instance of the person succeeding to the possession of the
vehicles.,' The observations set out above, relied upon by the appellant, do
not cover a case where the deceased applicant is not in possession of any motor
vehicles. The ratio of Dhani Devi's case (supra) was simply this : since the
right to and possession of the vehicles goes from a deceased holder of a permit
or an applicant for its "transfer" to his heirs, the right to
continue an application must also necessarily go to them. It does not decide
what will happen if there is no motor vehicle to which a deceased applicant's
heirs or legal representatives can succeed. Moreover, Dhani Devi's case (supra)
was one which was specifically. covered by Section 61 of the Motor Vehicles'
Act where the permit actually granted and held for a period specified seems (1)
 (2) S.C.R. 507.
517 to be treated as an adjunct of the
possession of the vehicle. It becomes a kind of property right attached to the
business of running a vehicle which is actually serving the public on the road.
In such case the right does not remain a mere personal right to apply but is of
a transferable character. Therefore, Section 61 of the Act deals with cases in
which a "transfer" of the permit held can be applied for. if it was
the intention of the legislature to provide for succession to whatever claims
an applicant for a permit has even before a permit is granted to him, it would
have similarly provided for the situation in the case before us. As there is no
such provision, we cannot legislate and import one into the Act. Indeed, as
already pointed out, it is difficult to conceive of succession to claims for
the recognition of which personal or other particular qualifications play so
large a part.
It was also contended that Messrs. Ram Autar
Lal Jain is, in the eye of law, a new entity separate from both Ram Autar Lal
Jain, the deceased applicant, as well as his heirs and legal representatives,
and that it could not be the successor or legal representative of the deceased
in whom any right to continue any proceeding could vest by succes- sion. As
this appeal fails on other grounds discussed above, it is not necessary to
decide this question.
Consequently, we dismiss this appeal with
V. P. S. Appeal dismissed.