(1.) THE appellants Nos. 1 to 15 are the existing loperators of Route No. 17 which runs from Chinsurah to Tarakeswar in he district of Hooghly covering 33 miles and they are plying 15 buses each of them having obtained stage carriage permit from the Regional Transport authority, Hooghly. They have also an association under the name of Tarakeswar-Chinsurah Bus Association. It appears that a notice was published in a local Bengali Weekly inviting applications for 5 additional stage carriage permits to be granted by the Regional transport Authority, Hooghly in Route no. 17 (Chinsurah to Tarakeswar ). On the 17th February, 1964 15 appellants in a letter head of the Tarakeswar chinsurah Bus Association wrote a letter under the heading "objection against Notification of R. T. A. inviting application for permit of 5 vehicles in route No. 17". The said letter was signed by the 15 appellants themselves. It was stated in the said letter that route No. 17 was already congested by plying of the 15 buses and that the owners of the buses were already over taxed with enhanced rates of Motor vehicles Tax and other excessive costs of maintenance and that granting of 5 additional permits would seriously be against public interest. It appears that there was also a notification issued by the Regional Transport Authority inviting objections against grant of permits for five additional buses in the said route. The appellants contended in the petition filed before this Court that no notice had been given fixing the date and time for consideration of the representation and or for hearing of the said application and or objections and| or representations filed by the appellants and no notice was given for a public hearing. It appears that on the 8th October, 1964 the Regional Transport authority passed a resolution and considered 95 applications for the sanction and granted 5 applications for additional stage carriage permits for Route no. 17. The persons in whose favour the said sanctions have been granted are the respondents Nos. 2-8 in the present appeal. A copy of the minutes of the proceedings of the meeting of the regional Transport Authority held on the 8th October, 1964 has been annexed with the petition. It appears that 8 members were present includng Shri gregory Gomes, I. A. S. , Chairman; who was the District Magistrate, Hooghly, apart from Shri R. Malakor, Secretary, R. T. A. , Hooghly was present and the Executive Engineer, Hooghly Construction division, P. W. Roads Department was present by special invitation. The Executive Engineer, Hooghly, Construction division, P. W. Roads, Department, was not a member of the Regiotrial transport Authority. Shri S. Satmajdar, Executive Engineer, P. W. D. Hooghly was a member of the Regional transport Authority and was also present. Being aggrieved by the said grant of the additional 5 permits the appellants herein moved this High court under Article 226 of the Constitution and a rule nisi being No. 1363 (W)of 1964 was issued. In the said application the appellants contended that the r. T. A. on 8th of October, 1964 did not consider at all the justification of granting permits for additional buses on the said Route and did not consider the merits of the individual applicants. It was further contended that no opportunity of hearing was given to the appellants and the representation of the appellants were not considered. It was then contended that the resolution dated 8th of October, 1964 was passed whih out compliance with the relevant provisions of Motor Vehicles Act and in particular with Sections 47 and '57 of the Motor Vehicles Act. It was also, inter alia, contended that the presence of the Executive Engineer, Hooghly, construction Division, P. W. (Roads), department, and his participation in the meeting held on 8th October, 1964 had vitiated the entire proceedings. After the rule nisi was issued affidavits in opposition were filed on behalf of the respondents. In the affidavit in opposition of the Regional Transport authority, Mr. Gregory Gomes, who was the Chairman of the Regional transport Authority and the District magistrate at the relevant time, stated that the petitioners were the permit-holders of the Route No. 17 who had obtained permits in the year 1957 against 20 vacancies declared by the Regional Transport authority in the newly sanctioned route. It was further stated that at first 10 stage carriage permits were sanctioned out of the 20 permits sanctioned by the State Government. Then out of the remaining 10 permits 5 more permits were granted with the subsequent further completion of the route upto Tarakeshwar to 5 displaced bus -. owners and the remaining five have: been granted by the resolution of the 8 october, 1964 to meet the present public demand. It was further stated that; the association of the appellants did. not obtain any recognition from the state Government as required under the provision of Motor Vehicles Act. It; was further stated in the said affidavit: that the representation filed on the 24th february, 1964 was by the Tarakeswar-Chinsurah Bus Association was not a proper representation inasmuch as it was not a recognised association under the Act. It was further stated that there was no representation filed within the time stipulated. It was further, stated that the appellants did not files any valid objection or representation in accordance with the Motor Vehicles act. It was further asserted in the said affidavit that the Regional Transport Authority, hooghly granted 5 permits on the 8th October, 1964 against the existing vacancies lying from the year 1956-57 in accordance with the provision of the Motor Vehicles Act and the Rules framed there-under. It was asserted that 95 applications were considered on their individual merits and 5 persons were considered to be suitable. So far as the presence of the executive Engineer, Hooghly Construction Division, P. W. (Roads)Department was concerned, it was asserced that he was asked to be present to satisfy the Regional Transport Authority regarding the conditions of the roads involved as required under Section 47 (1) of the Motor Vehicles Act, but he did not participate in the proceedings of the Regional Transport Authority in any manner. In paragraph 16 of the said affidavit it was stated as follows : "i say that 20 buses were sanctioned in the route at the time of its creation. 15 permits were earlier issued with the gradual completion of the Road. the remaining 5 permits were decided to be issued in response to the public demand. These are not new or additional permits against the sanctioned strength of 20 as stated before. The Regional transport Authority considered the matter in all its aspects. The applications were also considered on their individual merits. The present increase of the number of buses has not in any way exceeded the total original notified quota of 20. "in the affidavit in opposition Memo, dated 17th September, 1956 from the Secretary, State Transport Authority, west Bengal Home Department, to the Secretary Regional transport Authority, Hooghly regarding the opening of new bus routes in the district of Hooghly, has been annexed. It has been stated in the said memo, that with reference to the letter dated 2nd July, 1956 written by the Regional Transport Authority, hooghly, that the Transport Authority, west Bengal has no objection to the opening of the under noted new bus routes in the region and to the issue of stage carriage permits, as noted against each, subject to the conditions mentioned in the said memo. Amongst the names of the routes the first one is the chinsurah G. T. Road-Dhaniakhali-Dasghara-Tarakeswar (via Chinsurah-Dhaniakhali Road ). It was further stated that for the present the service will run from Chinsurah to Dhaniakhali, and when the portion of the road between Dhaniakhali and D'asghara has been metalled, the service shall be extended upto Tarakeswar. There were certain other affidavits filed on behalf of other respondents more or less on the similar lines. It was stated in the affidavit in reply in paragraph 3 that the petitioners do not admit that there was any sanction of the Regional transport Authority, Hooghly for 20 stage carriage permits. It was alleged that in any event the alleged sanction even if there be any was made without giving the petitioners any opportunity to file their objections against the proposed sanction and/or without giving them any hearing in the matter.
(2.) THE matter came up for hearing before D. Bosu, J. , and by a judgment delivered on the 6th. May, 1968 his lordship has been pleased to discharge the rule nisi without any order as to costs. It appears that this matter was heard along with similar other matters under the Motor Vehicles Act by the learned Judge. Being aggrieved by the said judgment and order of D. Basu, j. , passed on the 6th of May, 1968 the appellants herein who were the petitioners before the learned Judge have preferred this appeal.
(3.) IN support of this appeal Mr. Bose, learned advocate for the appellants, urged before us three main points. Firstly, he submitted that the meeting of the Regional Transport Authority held on the 8th October, 1964 was vitiated by the presence of an outsider namely, the Executive Engineer P. W. (Roads) Department, Hooghly. He drew our attention to a Bench decision of this Court in the case of (1) Commissioner of Burdwan Division v. Mrinal kanti Chatterjee and anr. 63 CWN, page 1. Mr. Bose next submitted that the additional permits were granted without compliance with the provisions of Sections 47 and 57 of the Motor vehicles Act and as such the whole resolution granting additional permits was void being illegal, and contrary to statutory requirements. Mr. Bose lastly submitted that the representation and the petition made by his clients were not considered and rejected on a wholly untenable ground. He urged that though the letter was written in the letter-head of the Tarakeshwar chinsurah Bus Association, all the 15 appellants themselves had signed the representation and even though the association was not a recognised association their representations and petitions should have been considered. He submitted that in not considering the said representation and the petition filed by his clients on the ground that the Tarakeswar Chinsurah bus Association was not a recognised association the Regional Transport Authority acted contrary to the principles of natural justice.;