Decided on March 19,1963

UNNIRI Appellant
HAJI K. MOHAMMED Respondents

Cited Judgements :-



- (1.)In pursuance of a notification issued on January 12,1960, inviting applications for the grant of permits for running two express stage carriages on the Guruvayur - Nilambur route, 16 applicants came forward, and by an order dated April 14, 1960, the State Transport Authority granted one permit to applicant No. 1 and another to applicant No. 13. On appeals by applicants Nos. 1 and 16 the State Transport Appellate Tribunal confirmed the grant of permit to applicant No. 13, cancelled the permit issued to applicant No. 1 and in its stead granted a permit to applicant No. 16. Applicants Nos. 1 and 7 filed writ petitions in this High Court challenging the latter order and on September 26, 1961, Vaidialingam, J. upheld the grant of permit to applicant No. 16, quashed that granted to applicant No. 13 and directed the S. T. A. T. 'to consider afresh the competing claims of applicants Nos. 1, 7 and 13 inter se and to select the best among them for the issue of one permit', allowing applicant No. 13 to ply a bus in the meanwhile. By virtue of that order the grant of one permit to applicant No. 16 became final, and there remained only the selection of one from applicants Nos. 1,7 and 13 for the second permit. On December 18,1961, the State Transport Appellate Tribunal granted the second permit to applicant No. 1 who is the first respondent herein. The appellant who is applicant No. 13, filed O. P. No. 3507 of 1961 challenging that order; but it was dismissed by a learned Judge of this Court on February 9, 1962; and this appeal is against that order of dismissal.
(2.)The State Transport Appellate Tribunal has considered the qualifications of applicants Nos. 1, 7 and 13 and observed:
"... It is contended for the 1st respondent that subsequent to the grant made by the S. T. A. he has been running a stage carriage on an additional six miles sector of this route and that he has accordingly sector qualification to the extent of 38 miles at present. ... But the appellant's contention is that this being a qualification, acquired by the first respondent subsequent to the impugned grant, it cannot be taken note of. I have already mentioned that subsequent events can be considered in a case like this on the authority of P. S. N. Motors v. Gangadhara Menon ( 1960 KLT 1324 ). Additional sector qualification even though it is not considerable in this case, does in my view afford a better qualification in favour of the 1st respondent in relation to the appellant and the second respondent."

It found that the 1st respondent had a larger experience at passenger road transport, that he owned and possessed at the time of the application a vehicle for being put on the road while the appellant's vehicle was one purchased by him subsequent to the application, that the workshop maintained by the appellant was a fully equipped one while that of the 1st respondent was a bit deficient, and concluded:

"Notwithstanding this alleged disqualification in respect of the workshop, the claims in other important matters possessed by the first respondent are sufficient to out weigh the above said deficiency."

Obviously "the important matters" that outweighed the 1st respondent's deficiency in workshop facilities and the claims of his rivals are his larger sector qualification, the ownership of a bus on the date of the application itself and longer experience at passenger road transport.

(3.)Thus, the additional sector qualification acquired by the 1st respondent subsequent to the order of the State Transport Authority has been considered by the State Transport Appellate Tribunal as an "important matter" in weighing the rival claims of the applicants for the permit. The Tribunal has assumed that P. S. N. Motors Ltd. v. Ganghadhara Menon (1960 KLT 1324) is an authority for such after acquired qualifications being taken consideration of in appeals from orders of a Transport Authority. That decision has not laid down that qualifications acquired after the order of the Regional or State Transport Authority can be given any consideration in appeals against orders of the Authority granting stage carriage permits. The passage relied on reads thus:
"If qualifications acquired after the submission of the applications but before the passing of the first order of the R. T. A. granting the permit can be considered, it passes beyond comprehension why the qualification acquired before reconsideration of the matter by the R. T. A. as per the directions of the appellate authority should not be accepted by them when they are passing the final order to grant the permit."

The effect of that observation is that the point of time with reference to which the relative qualifications of rival claimants for a permit should be evaluated is the date on which the Regional or State Transport Authority renders its decision. It is pertinent to note here that recently a Full Bench of this Court has considered the very question that is now before us and held:

"We have come to the conclusion that the date that is material is the date on which the Regional Transport Authority deals with the application. The earlier date the date of the application may not be in the public interest which as is evident from S.47 of the Motor Vehicles Act 1939, is the important and paramount consideration in these matters. The later date the date on which the State Transport Appellate Tribunal decides the appeal will mean an unwarranted extension of the appellate power. If the duty of the State Transport Appellate Tribunal is to decide as we think it is whether the Regional Transport Authority was wrong or not, it must naturally follow that the appellate decision must be on the basis of the facts and circumstances which formed the foundation of the order under Appeal." Cannanore District Motor Transport Employees Cooperative Society Ltd. v. Malabar Public Conveyance (( 1952 KLT 446 FB.)

It then follows that any qualification acquired after the decision of the State Transport Authority on April 14, 1960, has to be held irrelevant in the present case.


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