New Samundri Transport Co. (P) Ltd. Vs.
State of Punjab & Ors  INSC 256 (9 October 1975)
CITATION: 1976 AIR 57 1976 SCR (2) 218 1976
SCC (1) 757
F 1978 SC 434 (5) R 1984 SC1622 (142,198)
Motor Vehicles Act, 1939-S. 60(1)-Scope of.
Section 60 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1939
empowers the State Transport Authority to cancel or suspend a permit granted by
it under certain circumstances. The proviso to the section states that no
permit shall be cancelled unless an opportunity has been given to the holder of
the permit to furnish his explanation.
On receipt of reports and complaints regarding
the appellant, the State Transport Commissioner issued a show cause notice to
it without specifying therein the nature of complaints. Action was taken for
cancellation of the permits. The High Court summarily dismissed the writ
petition of the appellant filed under Art. 226 of the Constitution against the
order of the State Transport Appellate Tribunal.
Allowing the appeal to this Court,
HELD: (1) The High Court was not right in not
interfering with the order of the authority cancelling the permits. A
manifestly wrong procedure in a departmental action of this nature is obvious
on the face of the notice resulting in violation of the principles of natural
[221D; 220A] (2) The proposed penal action
has to be particularised with reference to each permit detailing the particular
conditions for breach of which action is sought to be taken.
Proviso to s. 60(1) which requires mandatory
compliance is nothing short of a reasonable opportunity to the permit- holder
to furnish his explanation. Unless the breaches of conditions or other
allegations are particularised with reference to each permit in the show cause
notice such notice is clearly invalid and no action can be taken under such a
notice. [220G: 221D]
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION: Civil Appeal
No. 879 of 1975.
Appeal by special leave from the Judgment and
order dated the 4th November, 1974 of the Punjab and Haryana High Court in
Civil Writ No. 4346 of 1974.
Hardyal Hardy, S. K. Mehta, K. B. Nagaraja,
P. N. Puri, M. Qamaruddin and K. Khanna, for the appellant.
O. P. Sharma, for respondent No. 1.
Luxmi Grover and S. S. Jauhar, for respondent
The Judgment of the Court was delivered by
GOSWAMI, J.-This appeal by special leave is against the judgment of the Punjab
and Haryana High Court summarily dismissing a writ application under article
226 of the Constitution against the order of the State Transport Appellate
The appellant is a private limited company
carrying on transport business over a long period. The company was granted 33
stage 219 carriage permits for various routes. It had a sanctioned fleet of 35
transport vehicles. On receipt of several reports and complaints from various
sources, the State Transport Commissioner issued the following show cause
notice to the appellant on March 28, 1974:- "Regd. A.D.
S. Balinder Singh, IAS, State Transport
To The Managing Director, New Samundri
Transport Company (P) Ltd., Ferozepur.
No. 455/JFI(2) dated Chandigarh the 28th
Subject: Departmental Action.
Memorandum A list of prosecutions launched
against your company by the Operational Staff is forwarded herewith.
The offences committed are of a very serious
Your company is also short of fleet of fit
vehicles. A copy of the joint report of the Secretary, Regional Transport
Authority, Jullundur and Motor Vehicles Inspector, Jullundur relating to the
condition of buses of your company is also enclosed. Due to the shortage of fit
vehicles against the sanctioned fleet of 35 buses, number of services is being
missed whereby the public is being put to a great inconvenience. You are,
therefore, required to show cause as to why departmental action by way of
suspension/cancellation of stage carriage permits under section 60 of the Motor
Vehicles Act, 1939, should not be taken against your Company. Reply should be
sent to this office within 10 days of the receipt of this notice failing which
it will be presumed that you have nothing to say.
State Transport Commissioner Punjab".
The appellant says that an explanation was
posted to the Commissioner within time under certificate of posting.
According to the Commissioner it was not
received. The District Judge, who is the State Transport Appellate Tribunal,
observed in his order that- "some mischief appears to have been committed
in the office of the respondent with regard to the reply which was sent under
220 We will, however, proceed on the
assumption that no explanation was sent by the appellant to the Commissioner.
Even so a manifestly wrong procedure in a
departmental action of this nature is obvious on the face of the above notice
resulting in violation of the principles of natural justice.
The notice was issued under section 60 of the
Motor Vehicles Act, 1939 (briefly the Act) which may be quoted:
60(1)"The transport authority which
granted a permit may cancel the permit or may suspend it for such period as it
thinks fit- (a) on the breach of any condition specified in sub- section (3) of
section 59, or of any condition contained in the permit, or (b) if the holder
of the permit uses or causes or allows a vehicle to be used in any manner not
authorised by the permit, or (c) if the holder of the permit ceases to own the
vehicle or vehicles covered by the permit, or (d) if the holder of the permit
has obtained the permit by fraud or misrepresentation, or (e) if the holder of the
permit, not being a private carrier's permit, fails without reasonable cause to
use the vehicle or vehicles for the purposes for which the permit was granted;
or (f) if the holder of the permit acquires the citizenship of any foreign
Provided that no permit shall be cancelled
unless an opportunity has been given to the holder of the permit to furnish his
Sub-section (3) of section 60 provides for
composition of breach of certain conditions. Section 59(3) contains the
conditions laid down for every permit. The target of section 60 is the permit
that has been issued breach of conditions of which is the subject matter of
action under it except in cases covered by section 60(1) (d) and (f). It is
true that for each permit the permit-holder is responsible and he is the person
who has to submit the explanation. The proposed penal action has to be
particularised with reference to each permit detailing the particular
conditions for breach of which action is sought to be taken in connection with
a particular permit. This is the minimum requirement of section 60.
What we find in this case is a kind of bald
notice making no reference to any particular permit for cancellation or
suspension of which action has been taken.
It is as if all the 33 permits were going to
be suspended or cancelled. It is clear that after receipt of the various
reports the Commissioner did not apply his mind to scrutinise the same 221 for
the purpose of taking appropriate legal action against any specific permit under
section 60 of the Act. On the other hand taking the reports as they were, which
may as well have been general allegations against the permit- holder,
immediately action was taken for suspension or cancellation of all the permits.
From the list of prosecutions we find only 15 vehicles are involved and most of
the cases are of overloading. Some of the cases relate to non-accompaniment
with the vehicles of registration certificates and other documents. In some
cases, against certain vehicles, the time schedule was not kept and certain
trips were missed. We are not at all on the merits of these prosecutions.
What is important in a departmental action of
this type for violation of conditions of permit is that it must relate to the
particular permits appertaining to concerned vehicles. It is of utmost
importance that charges are made with reference to each permit in clear terms
in order to enable the permit-holder to furnish his explanation. Proviso to
section 60(1) which requires mandatory compliance is nothing short of a
reasonable opportunity to the permit- holder to furnish his explanation.
Unless, therefore, the breaches of conditions or other allegations are
particularised with reference to each permit in the show cause notice, such
notice is clearly invalid and no action can be taken under such a notice. This
is exactly what has happened in this case resulting in violation of the
principles of natural justice ingrained in the proviso to section 60(1) of the
Act. The High Court, therefore, was not right in not interfering with the order
of the authorities cancelling the permits.
In the result the appeal is allowed. The
order of the High Court as well as the orders of the State Transport Appellate
Tribunal and the Commissioner are set aside. We will, however, make no order as
P.B.R. Appeal allowed.