VISAKAPATNAM CO-OPERATIVE MOTOR TRANSPORT LTD., VISAKAPATNAM Vs. G. BANGARURAJU AND ORS.
HIGH COURT OF MADRAS
Visakapatnam Co -Operative Motor Transport Ltd., Visakapatnam
G. Bangaruraju And Ors.
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Rajamannar, J. -
(1.) THE same question of law is involved in these three Letters Patent Appeals against the judgments of Subba Rao J. in three applications for the issue of writs of 'certiorari' and 'mandamus' against proceedings under the Motor Vehicles Act. The question arises on the following facts which are substantially common to all the three petitions though they related to different districts in the State. There were applications to the concerned Regional Transport Authorities for the issue of bus permits. One of the applicants was the District Co -operative Society for Ex -servicemen. It is common ground that the Collector of the concerned district is the President of the respective Co -operative Society. It is also common ground that the Collector of the district is a member of the Regional Transport Authority which has to adjudicate on the comparative claims of the applicants and which is under a duty to decide as to who should be granted the permit.
In all the three cases, a permit was granted to the respective Co -operative Society in the district. In all the three cases, the Collector happened to be the President of the respective Regional Transport Authority and took part in the proceedings in which the permit was granted. Two objections 'inter alia' were taken by and on behalf of the other applicants, namely, (1) that the District Collector was disqualified from being appointed as a member of the Regional Transport Authority, because he had a financial interest in a Transport undertaking, and (2) the order of the Regional Transport Authority was contrary to the principles of natural justice because the Collector who was a member of the Regional Transport Authority was also the President of the Co -operative Society which was one of the applicants.
Subba Rao J. overruled the first objection which was based on Section 44 (3) of the Motor Vehicles Act. Under that provision, no person who has any financial interest whether as proprietor, employee or otherwise in any transport undertaking shall be appointed or continue as a member of a Provincial or Regional Transport Authority. The learned Judge held that the Collector of the District did not have any financial Interest in the Co -operative Society of which he was 'ex officio' the President and therefore he was not disqualified under that provision.
(2.) THE learned Judge however upheld the second objection. He held that the order of the Regional Transport Authority issuing a permit to the Co -operative Society in each of these cases was not valid, because the President of the Society, namely, the Collector took part in the proceedings of the Regional Transport Authority, as one of its members. The reasoning of the learned Judge which was based on several decisions of English Courts to which reference was made before him was shortly this: Members of the Regional Transport Authority performed a judicial or quasi -judicial function in deciding on the applications made to the Authority for the grant of a permit and the member of such a body should not have a bias which is likely to affect his impartiality. It is not necessary that actual partiality should be established before the proceedings of that body are vitiated. The presence of a member having a bias vitiates 'ab initio' the constitution of the body itself. On this ground, the learned Judge quashed the orders of the Regional Transport Authority granting the permits to the respective Co -operative Societies. In the three appeals before us, in one of the appeals the Government, is the appellant, and in the other two, the parties affected by the decision of Subba Rao J. are the appellants.
(3.) WE agree with the learned Judge that the Collector of the District was not disqualified from being appointed as a member of the Regional Transport Authority under Section 44 (2) of the Act, merely because he happened to be the 'ex officio' president of the respective Co -operative Society for ex -servicemen. We are also in agreement with the learned Judge on the second point. It is not necessary to discuss at length the legal principles which have been well established in dealing with the proceedings of inferior tribunals entrusted with judicial and quasi -judicial functions. One of the great principles of civilised jurisprudence which is a part of the law in Britain and which has been adopted in this country is that no man shell be a judge in his own cause.
Closely allied to this principle is the other salutary principle that it is of fundamental importance that justice should not only be done but manifestly and undoubtedly seem to be done The combined result of these two well established principles is that irrespective of the possibility or otherwise of actual partiality being proved, the constitution of a tribunal entrusted with judicial or quasi -judicial functions is deemed to be bad if and when it deals with any case in which it can be said that one of the members of that body is among the suitors or litigants before the body. See Halsbury's Laws of England, 2nd Edn., Vol. IX, page 883 ct seq.;
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