(1.) THE facts in this case are shortly as follows:-The petitioner No. 1 is the owner of seven buses and the petitioner No. 2 is the owner of a bus. These buses used to ply on route No. 12c in Calcutta, which runs from Howrah Station to Barisa. Until the year 1954, the said buses were running on route No. 33 which runs from Paikpara to Chetla. Sometime in 1954, an agreement was entered into between the petitioners and the Regional Transport Authority, Calcutta, whereby the petitioners and certain other permit-holders withdrew their buses from route No. 12c to route No. 33, running from Paikpara to Chetla and they were doing so under permits granted from time to time. The Indian Motor Vehicles Act (Act IV of 1939) (hereinafter referred to as the said 'act') was amended by the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 1956 (Act 100 of 1956) which received the assent of the President on the 30th December, 1956. Under the said Amendment Act, a new chapter, being chapter IVA was inserted in the said Act, containing special provisions relating to Nationalisation of transport and the creation of a State Transport Undertaking. In West Bengal, the Directorate of Transportation, Government of West Bengal, is the State Transport Undertaking. On or about 17th August. , 1957 the Directorate of Transportation, Government of West Bengal, the respondent No. 6 to this application, prepared a scheme under section 68c of the said Act, for the purpose of taking over certain routes in Calcutta, including No. 12c, to be operated by the State Transport Undertaking, to the complete exclusion of other persons. The said scheme was published in the Calcutta Gazette dated 22nd August, 1957. Purporting to act under the said scheme, the respondent No. 6 passed an order taking over route No. 12c in Calcutta, to the exclusion of all passenger services on and from the 1st April, 1960. On 25th September, 1957 several objections to the said scheme were heard by Sri R. Gupta, an Officer of the Transport Department of the Government of West Bengal, being the Transport Commissioner. On the 26th September, 1957 the objections were rejected and the scheme was approved by the said Sri R. Gupta. On the 18th January, 1980 the petitioner applied for renewal of permits in respect of route No. 12c, with effect from the 1st April, 1960. On the 18th March, 1960 the petitioners made an application to this Court under Art. 226 of the Constitution, challenging the said scheme and the approval thereof by Sri R. Gupta, inter alia on the ground that Sri R. Gupta was himself an officer of the State Transport Undertaking and as such, was a biassed person. A rule was issued on the 18th March, 1960. The matter was heard by G. K. Mitter, J. , and by an order dated 31st March, 1960 the rule was made absolute and a writ in the nature of certiorari was issued, quashing the order of the respondent No. 6, regarding the implementation of the said scheme dated 17th August, 1957 and/or 26th September, 1957 in relation to route No. 12c in Calcutta. Other appropriate writs were also issued preventing the said respondent from taking over route No. 12c in terms of the purported scheme. At the hearing of the application it was mentioned that the respondent No. 6 had obtained an order dated 14th August, 1956 under section 58a of the said Act (West Bengal Amendment), directing the R. T. A. , Calcutta, to grant stage carriage permits in respect of 700 stage carriages, for operation of passenger services within the Calcutta region, and that on the 11th September, 1956 the R. T. A. , Calcutta issued the said permits pursuant to the said order. The learned Judge held that there were not sufficient materials before him to deal with this aspect of the question and therefore, he did not deal with it. The result has been that the respondent No. 6 is running stage carriages, to the exclusion of other persons in route No. 12c, on the strength of the permits issued by the R. T. A. as aforesaid, while the application by the petitioners for renewal of their permits have been kept pending and no order passed thereon. The petitioners have now made this application and this rule was issued on the 13th May, 1960 asking the respondent No. 6 to show cause why a writ in the nature of mandamus should not be issued, calling upon the Directorate of Transportation, Government of West Bengal, to forthwith recall or withdraw their buses from route No. 12c in Calcutta and I or forbear from running its buses in the said route in any manner whatsoever, and why such further or other orders should not be made and/or directions given as to this Court may seem fit and proper. Section 58a of the said Act was introduced by the Motor Vehicles (West Bengal Amendment) Act, 1951 (West Bengal Act XIX of 1951) and runs as follows:-
"58a. Grant of permit to local authority-Notwithstanding anything hereinbefore contained, the State Government may by order direct any Regional Transport Authority or the State Transport Authority to grant stage carriage permits to the State Government or any local authority specified in the order. "
(2.) MR. Meyer appearing on behalf of the petitioners, has taken three points, which are as follows: The first point taken is that as a matter of fact, no order has ever been made under section 58a of the said Act, on the 14th August, 1956 or on any other date, and therefore the permits granted thereunder on the 11th September, 1956 are invalid. If no order had in fact been made under section 58a of the Said Act, then permits for stage carriages could only be issued under chapter IV of the said Act, after complying with the procedure laid down in the said Act. It is admitted that the procedure in chapter IV had not been followed in this case. In other words, the validity of the permits granted to the respondent No. 6 on the 11th September, 1956 depends upon the validity of the purported order dated 14th August, 1956 under section 53a of the said Act. The second point taken is that upon the coming into operation of chapter IVA of the said Act, on the 30th December, 1956, section 58a of the said Act must be taken to have been impliedly repealed. It is argued that different States in India promulgated different local laws for the purpose of nationalisation of transport services, and it was with the intention of nationalisation that section 58a was introduced in the said Act. In order to make the law relating to nationalisation of transport services uniform throughout India, Parliament enacted the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act of 1956 (Act 100 of 1956) which now supersedes all local laws and is the only provision which can be resorted to for the purpose of nationalisation of transport services. It is argued that upon chapter IVA coming into operation, section 58a of the said Act, which was a local amendment, must be taken to have been impliedly repealed and therefore, the permits granted under section 58a ceased to be operative The third point taken is that if section 58a is to be considered as still operative, then it is ultra vires the Constitution, being violative of Art. 14 of the Constitution. It is argued that section 58a and the provisions of Chapter IVA can not simultaneously be in operation, as in that event there would be discrimination between different transport undertakings.
(3.) IN my opinion, the second and third points can be disposed of at once. As will appear from the facts set out above, the permits granted under section 58a of the said Act, were granted at a point of time when the Central Act 100 of 1956 had not yet come into operation. In fact, chapter IVA of the said Act came into operation on the 30th December, 1956. The question is whether such permits already granted could be rendered invalid, even assuming that introduction of chapter IVA in the said Act impliedly repeated the provisions of section 58a of the said Act. This point has been decided in a Supreme Court decision, Deepchand v. State of Uttar Pradesh and Ors. , (1) (1959) 1 S. C. A. 377. The facts in that case were as follows: On April 24, 1955 the U. P. Legislature passed the Uttar Pradesh Transport Services (Development) Act, 1955 under which the State Government was authorised to frame a scheme of nationalisation of motor transport. After following the procedure, prescribed therein, the State Government finally published a scheme on June 23, 1956. The Constitution (4th Amendment) Act 1955 which received the assent of the President on April 27 1955 amended clause (2) of Art 31 of the Constitution and inserted clause 2 (A) into the said Article. Under the said Article as amended, unless the law in question provides for the transfer of ownership and right to possession of any property, to the State or to a corporation owner or controlled by the State, it shall not be deemed to provide for the compulsory acquisition on requisition of property within the meaning of clause (2) of that Article. Parliament subsequently passed the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act 1956. It was held that the U. P. Act did not, on the passing of the Amendment Act, become wholly void under Art. 254 (1) of the Constitution, and that even if the Amendment Act be construed as repealing the U. P. Act. such repeal did not destroy or efface the scheme already framed under the U. P. Act, being saved by the provisions of section 6 of the General Clauses Act. Finally, it was held that the U. P. Act did not offend the provisions of Art. 31 of the Constitution as it stood before the Fourth Amendment, as it provided for payment of adequate-compensation.;