Singh Vs. Jagir Chand & Anr  Insc 538 (10 October 2001)
Shah & R.P. Sethi Shah, J.
the legislative intent under the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 to increase the
number of buses on different routes for the convenience and benefit of travelling
public, there is reluctance on the part of the authorities to implement the
same. Having reached at a saturation point wherein Permit Raj caused lot of
inconvenience to the bus operators as well as to the general public to a large extent,
the same is sought to be continued. There cannot be any doubt that there can be
certain restrictions on the bus operators for providing facilities to the
passengers, but when Legislature provides that permit should not, ordinarily,
be refused and has brought about a complete change in the policy of granting
permit, it would be unreasonable and unjust on the part of the State
Authorities to continue their old practice.
in these days of liberalization in all fields, that too when we are talking of
globalization, it would be unjust to put fetter on the exercise of fundamental
rights of those persons who intend to carry on the business as transport
these appeals, the order passed by the High Court of Punjab and Haryana at Chandigarh setting aside the orders passed by
the State Transport Appellate Tribunal granting permits to operate mini buses
on certain routes to the appellants, is challenged. Orders passed by the State
Transport Appellate Tribunal were not challenged by the State Transport
Undertaking or the State Government but were challenged by the Permit Holders
who were running mini buses. It is true that those who are having permits to
operate on certain routes would object to the grant of permit to other
operators as it is likely to affect their monopoly. This is bound to be there
in all fields of industry or business. At the same time, grant or refusal of
such permits is required to be governed by the provisions of law.
objects and reasons of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 inter alia provides that to
take care of:-
fast increasing number of both commercial vehicles and personal vehicles in the
of procedure and policy liberalizations for private sector operations in the
road transport field;
provisions are made under the Act.
legislative policy is reflected in Section 80 (2) of the Motor Vehicles Act,
1988 (hereinafter referred to as the Act) which inter alia provides that a
Regional Transport Authority shall not ordinarily refuse to grant an
application for permit of any kind made at any time under the Act.
early as 1974, this Court in case of Hans Raj Kehar v. State of U.P. [(1975) 1
SCC 40] emphasised the need of having more and more buses for the public
convenience and observed thus: - .The notification removes the bar created by
the limit on the number of permits for buses which could be issued and
facilitates the issue of such permits to fresh applicants if they satisfy the
requirement of eligibility. It hardly needs much argument to show that the
larger number of buses operating on different routes would be for the
convenience and benefit of the travelling public and as such would be in the
public interest. Any measure which results in larger number of buses operating on
various routes would necessarily eliminate or in any case minimise long hours
of waiting at the bus stands. It would also relieve congestion and provide for
quick and prompt transport service. Good transport service is one of the basic
requirements of a progressive society.
and quick transport service being a great boon for those who travel, any
measure which provides for such an amenity is in the very nature of things in
the public interest.
in Mithilesh Garg and Others v. Union of India and others [(1992) 1 SCC 168],
the existing bus operators challenged the validity of Section 80 of the Motor
Vehicles Act, 1988 on the ground that they were adversely affected in exercise
of their right under Articles 14 and 19 of the Constitution of India. The Court
negatived the said contention by holding that it is only the State which can
impose reasonable restrictions within the ambit of Article 19(6) of the
Constitution of India on the guaranteed rights of every citizen whether rich or
poor, to take up and carry on, if he so wishes, the motor transport business.
Further, after considering the provisions of the Repealed Act with regard to
the grant of permit and sections 71, 72 and 80 of the new Act, the Court
observed thus: - The scheme envisaged under Sections 47 and 57 of the old Act
has been completely done away with by the Act. The right of existing operators
to file objections and the provision to impose limit on the number of permits
have been taken away. There is no similar provision to that of Sections 47 and
57 under the Act. The Statement of Objects and Reasons of the Act shows that
the purpose of brining in the Act was to liberalise the grant of permits.
Section 71(1) of the Act provides that while considering an application for a
stage carriage permit, the Regional Transport Authority shall have regard to
the objects of the Act. Section 80(2), which is the harbinger of
liberalization, provides that a Regional Transport Authority shall not
ordinarily refuse to grant an application for permit of any kind made at any
time under the Act. There is no provision under the Act like that of Section
47(3) of the old Act and as such no limit for the grant of permits can be fixed
under the Act. There is, however, a provision under Section 71(3)(a) of the Act
under which a limit can be fixed for the grant of permits in respect of the
routes which are within a town having population of more than five lakhs.
learned counsel for the respondent bus operators relied upon the provisions of
Section 99 of the Act and submitted that under scheme framed by the State
Government, the competent authority can restrict grant of permits to the bus
operators and therefore, the Transport Authority was justified in rejecting the
application for grant of permit to mini buses operators on a particular route.
the question iswhether the State Government has framed any such scheme. It is
true that under Chapter VI, there are Special provisions relating to State
98 also provides that the provisions of Chapter VI and the rules and orders
made thereunder shall have effect notwithstanding anything inconsistent
therewith contained in Chapter V which includes Section 80. Thereafter
sub-section (1) of Section 99 reads as under: -
Preparation and publication of proposal regarding road transport service of a
State Transport Undertaking.(1) Where any State Government is of opinion that
for the purpose of providing an efficient, adequate, economical and properly
co-ordinated road transport service, it is necessary in the public interest
that road transport services in general or any particular class of such service
in relation to any area or route or portion thereof should be run and operated
by the State Transport Undertaking, whether to the exclusion, complete or
partial, of other persons or otherwise, the State Government may formulate a
proposal regarding a scheme giving particulars of the nature of the services
proposed to be rendered, the area or route proposed to be covered and other
relevant particulars respecting thereto and shall publish such proposal in the
Official Gazette of the State formulating such proposal and in not less than
one newspaper in the regional language circulating in the area or route
proposed to be covered by such scheme and also in such other manner as the
State Government formulating such proposal deem fit.
the aforesaid section, it is apparent that before framing the scheme, the State
Government should arrive at a conclusion that: -
the purpose of providing an efficient, adequate, economical and properly co-ordinated
road transport service;
is necessary in the public interest;
the road transport services in general or in particular class of such service
in relation to any area or route or portion thereof should be run and operated
by the State Transport Undertaking;
the exclusion, complete or partial of other persons or otherwise;
State Government is required to formulate a proposal regarding the scheme
of services proposed to be rendered,
area or route proposed to be covered and;
relevant particulars respecting thereto.
the State shall publish such proposal
the Official Gazette of the State formulating such proposal;
not less than one newspaper in the regional language circulating in the area or
route proposed to be covered by such scheme; and
such other manner as the State Government formulating such proposal deem fit.
purpose of the aforesaid section is to have some routes/area reserved for the
State Transport Undertaking, that too, for the purpose of providing an
efficient, adequate, economical and properly coordinated Road Transport
service. Further, such scheme must be in public interest, that is to say,
larger number of buses operating on different routes for the convenience and
benefit of travelling public at a cheaper rate. In such a scheme, some routes
can be reserved exclusively or partially for the State Transport Undertakings.
rejoinder affidavit it has been pointed out that in the State of Punjab, the State Transport Undertakings
are not running mini buses linking one village with another and as the State
Transport Undertaking is not running any mini bus linking the villages, the
Regional Transport Authority is bound by the provisions of Section 80 to grant
this stage we would refer to the alleged scheme upon which reliance is placed
by the learned counsel for the respondents. As such, the State Government or
the bus operators have not produced on record properly modified scheme, but
they have referred to the Notification dated 21st October, 1997 which seeks to modify the previous Scheme which was framed
on 9th August, 1990 by substituting some clauses. The
relevant parts of the said clauses are as under:- (2). All Inter-state routes
shall be operated by the State Transport Undertakings and operations or private
operators whose permits were valid for a period of three years from the date of
the publication of the scheme, shall remain unaffected.
that the route operated by a private operator, which became Inter-state route
as a result of reorganization of the State of Punjab in the year 1966, shall not be affected by the Scheme.
further that the operations of any State other than State of Punjab or any
Union Territory including their private operators operating on any route by
virtue or the reciprocal agreement or permits granted by such other states and
countersigned by the State Transport Authority or by the Regional Transport
Authority concerned as the case may be, shall remain unaffected.
further that a permit may be granted to a private operator for operations of
Air-conditioned buses from the District Headquarter and important towns in the
State of Punjab to the Union Territory, Chandigarh.
All future operations on monopoly routes shall be operated by the State
that a private operator may be allowed to operated on a portion of twenty per
cent of the monopoly route or up to the distance of fifteen kilometers of the
said route, whichever is less, where it is necessary or is in public interest
to do so:
further that the permits granted by the Regional Transport Authority before
coming into force of the scheme to the private operators for operating on
monopoly routes, wholly or on portion thereof or on the routes in which the
monopoly routes fall, shall remain unaffected.
While granting permits for operations on routes, linking one village with another
village without any city or a town or municipality, in between the aforesaid
two villages, or a route linking a village with the block headquarter or a
municipality or city the use of the mini buses may be allowed on the basis of
passenger road transport needs as assessed by the State Transport Commissioner,
Punjab from time to time.
The total length of each such route does not exceed 25 kilometers and the total
operation per bus, does not exceed 250 kilometers per day.
Not more than half of the total routes length runs across a National Highway or State Highways.
least one of the terminal of the route shall be a village and shall not include
more than one municipality except on a local route falling within the municipal
limits of a town, municipality or city wherein both the starting and the
terminating points may be the same or may fall within the same town,
municipality or city, as the case may be, and
shall be ensured that the interest of the State Transport Undertakings are not
affected adversely on such routes.
the purpose of these appeals, clauses 2 and 4 are not at all relevant. Clause
(2) provides for all Inter-state routes and clause (4) provides for future
operators on monopoly routes which are to be operated by the State
Undertakings. Relevant clause is clause (7-A) and it nowhere reveals that it is
in conformity with Section 99 of the Act. Under Section 99 of the Act if the
State Transport Undertaking is to operate on a particular route, then only the
scheme could be made applicable. The aforesaid Scheme does not provide that the
routes mentioned in Clause 7(a) are to be covered and operated completely or
partially by the State Transport Undertaking. In such cases, Section 80(2)
would be applicable as under Section 99, the State Government is not empowered
to provide that only few private operators would operate on a particular
route/routes and Regional Transport Authority or other prescribed authority
cannot ordinarily refuse to grant an application for permit of any kind made at
any time under the Act.
to be stated that in the present case, the order passed by the Appellate
Tribunal was not challenged by the State Government or by the State Transport
Undertaking, but was only challenged by the private bus operators. However, in
these appeals, it is not necessary to consider whether they were having any
locus standi to file petitions before the High Court.
result, the appeals are allowed. Impugned orders passed by the High Court are
set aside. Orders passed by the Presiding Officer, State Transport Appellate
Tribunal, Punjab are restored.
shall be no order as to costs.