Decided on October 28,1968

KSRTC Appellant


- (1.) The Kerala State Road Transport Corporation represented by its General Manager has preferred this original petition seeking to quash the order Ex. P1 passed by the State Transport Authority, Ernakulam setting aside the order of the Regional Transport Authority, Ernakulam dated 14-2-1964 whereby on the application for renewal of the permit of stage carriage K.L.K, 1822 which was plying between Ernakulam and Thalayolaparamba the Regional Transport Authority granted the renewal only subject to the curtailment of the portion between Ernakulam and Tripunithura on the ground that the said portion was covered by a notified scheme to the complete exclusion of all private operators.
(2.) The first ground urged by the learned counsel for the petitioner is that the curtailment having been effected by the Regional Transport Authority under S.68F(2) of Chapter IVA of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1939 its order was not liable to be revised by the State Transport Authority under S.64A. In support of this contention reliance was placed by counsel on the observations contained in the judgment of the Supreme Court reported in Abdul Gafoor, Proprietor, Shasheen Motor Service, Channaryapatna v. State of Mysore, AIR 1961 SC 1556 , where it has been held: ".......... when deciding what action to take under B. 68-F(2) the authority is tied down by the terms and conditions of the previous approved scheme and his duty is merely to do what is necessary to give effect to the provisions of the scheme. The refusal to entertain applications for renewal of permits or cancellation of permits or modification of terms of existing permits really flow from the scheme. The duty is therefore merely mechanical; and it will be incorrect to say that there is in these matters any lis between the existing operators and the State Transport Undertaking which is to be decided by the Regional Transport Authority". On the strength of those observations it is contended that the order passed by the State Transport Authority in the instant case granting the renewal only in respect of the route as curtailed should be regarded as a mere ministerial order and that, as such, it wouldn't come within the scope of the exercise of the revisional power under S.64A. Section 64A is in the following terms: "The State Transport Authority may, either on its own motion or on an application made to it, call for the record of any case in which an order has been made by a Regional Transport Authority and in which no appeal lies, and if it appears to the State Transport Authority that the order made by the Regional Transport Authority is improper or illegal, the state Transport Authority may pass such order in relation to the case as it deems fit: Provided that the State Transport Authority shall not entertain any application from a person aggrieved by an order of a Regional Transport Authority, unless the application is made within thirty days from the date of the order: Provided further that the State Transport Authority shall not pass an order under this section prejudicial to any person without giving him a reasonable opportunity of being heard." The Supreme Court had occasion to deal with the scope of this Section in Lakshmi Narain Agarwal v. The State Transport Authority U.P., AIR 1968 S.C. 410, and their Lordships have observed thus: "If we look at the section, it would be noticed that S.64A is very wide in terms; the only condition necessary for filing a revision is that it should be against an order made by the Regional Transport Authority and against which no appeal lies. The word 'order' is wide, and there is no doubt that an order made under S.47 (3) is an order within S.64A because, as held by this Court in 1963 (3) SCR 523 - ( AIR 1963 SC 64 ), it binds the Regional Transport Authority and the State Transport Authority in dealing with applications under S.48, read with S.57 of the Act". Having regard to this Pronouncement of their Lordships holding that an order under S.47(3) is liable to be revised under S.64A it is difficult to accept the petitioner's contention that merely because there is no lis at the stage of asking an order under S.68F(2), pure and simple, such an order will not be amenable to the revisional jurisdiction under S.64A. Whereas S.47(3) does not contemplate any quasi judicial order being passed thereunder after a notice and hearing, there is specific provision in R.8 of the Kerala Motor Vehicles (State Transport Undertakings) Rules, 1960 which provides that: "In giving effect to the approved scheme, the Regional Transport Authority or Authorities concerned shall, before eliminating the existing services or cancelling any existing permit or modifying the conditions of the existing permit so as to - (i) .......................................... (ii) .......................................... (iii) Curtail the area or route covered by the permit in so far as such permit relates to the notified route: give due notice to the persons likely to be affected in the manner prescribed in these rules". The manner in which the service is to be effected is specified in R.5. There is also the further circumstance that in the case before me the order has been passed not in an independent proceeding initiated by the Regional Transport Authority under S.68F(2) but on an application for renewal filed by the holder of a permit over the route in question and what has been done is to grant a renewal in respect of a curtailed route. In my opinion, such decision of the Regional Transport Authority will certainly constitute an "order" liable to be revised under S.64A of the Motor Vehicles Act. The first contention raised by the learned counsel for the petitioner that the State Transport Authority had acted without jurisdiction in revising the order of the Regional Transport Authority therefore fails.
(3.) The next contention advanced on behalf of the petitioner was that the ground stated by the State Transport Authority for setting aside the Regional Transport Authority's order and remanding the proceedings to the Regional Transport Authority is not one which, even if valid, would justify interference in revision by that tribunal. The main reason stated by the State Transport Authority in support of his interference in revision is that the refusal of a renewal of the 3rd respondent's permit was arbitrary and discriminatory in view of the grant of renewal of permits of various other private operators without any curtailment in respect of the portion of the route from Ernakulam to Tripunithura. That there had been such discrimination does not seem to have been denied before the State Transport Authority by the representative appearing on behalf of the State Transport Undertaking. In these circumstances even though there may be some merit in the technical plea advanced before me by the learned counsel for the petitioner I am not disposed to interfere with the order passed by the State Transport Authority in the exercise of my discretionary jurisdiction under Art.226, in as much as the order has only resulted in rectifying an injustice which apparently had been caused to the third respondent by reason of the discrimination practised as against him by the Regional Transport Authority, Ernakulam.;

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