Banerjee, J. -
(1.)In this Rule the petitioners challenge the jurisdiction of the Regional Transport Authority to fix the fares for stage carriages. The petitioner No. 1 is a registered association of Private Stage Carriages. It is stated that under Section 43 (1) (i) of the Motor Vehicles Act the State Government is the sole authority to issue the directions regarding the fixation of fares for the stage carriages. It is stated that under Section 43 (3) (xii) of the Act the Regional Transport Authority has been given power to attach to the stage carriage permit a condition with regard to fare that shall be charged in accordance with the approved fare table. It is alleged that the State Government has not yet issued any direction with regard to the fixing of fares for the stage carriages in accordance with the provisions of Section 43 of the said Act and as such the Regional Transport Authority has illegally purported to fix a fare table for the carriage of the passengers on ad hoc basis. The petitioners submitted that the Regional Transport Authority has no jurisdiction to fix the fare table as a condition of permit unless the fare is fixed by the State Government under Section 43 of the Act.
(2.)On behalf of the respondent it is stated that the R. T. A. has the power and jurisdiction to fix the fare as is provided in Section 48 (3) read with Rule 66-A of the Rules. Before dealing with the points raised T set out herein the relevant provisions, namely. Sections 43 and 48 and Rule 66-A of the Motor Vehicles Rules.
Section 43. "(1) A State Government, having regard to- (a) the advantages offered to the public trade and industry by the development of motor transport, and (b) the desirability of coordinating road and rail transport, and (c) the desirability of preventing the deterioration of the road system, and (d) the desirability of preventing uneconomic competition among motor vehicles, may, from time to time, by notification in the official gazette issue directions to the Slate Transport Authority
(i) regarding the fixing of fares and freights for stage carriages, contract carriages and public carriers;
(ii) regarding the prohibition or restriction, subject to such conditions as may be specified in the directions, of the conveying of long distance goods traffic generally, or of specified classes of goods, by private or public carriers;
(iii) regarding the grant of permits for alternative routes or areas to persons in whose cases the existing permits are cancelled or the terms thereof are modified in exercise of the powers conferred by Clause (b) or Clause (c) of Sub-section (2) of Section 68-F;
(iv) regarding any other matter which may appear to the State Government necessary or expedient for giving effect to any agreement entered into with the Central Government or any other State Government or the Government of any other country relating to the regulation of motor transport generally, and in particular to its co-ordination with other means of transport and the conveying of long distance goods traffic : Provided that no such notification shall be issued unless a draft of the proposed directions is published in the official gazette specifying therein a date being not less than one month after such publication, on or after which the draft will be taken into consideration and any objection or suggestion which may be received has, in consultation with the State Transport Authority, been considered after giving the representatives of the interests affected an opportunity of being heard.
(2) The State Government shall permit, at such intervals of time as it may fix, the interests affected by any notification issued under Sub-section (1) to make representations urging the cancellation or variation of the notification on the following grounds, namely, (a) that the railways are not giving reasonable facilities or are taking unfair advantage of the action of the State Government under this section; or (b) that conditions have changed since the publication of the notification; or (c) that the special needs of a particular industry or locality require to be considered afresh. (3) If the State Government after considering any representation made to it under Sub-section (2) and having heard the representatives of the interests affected and the State Transport Authority is satisfied that any notification issued under Sub-section (1) ought to be cancelled or varied, it may cancel the notification or vary it in such manner as it thinks fit."
Section 48. "(1) Subject to the provisions of Section 47, a Regional Transport Authority may, on an application made to it under Section 46, grant a stage carriage permit in accordance with the application or with such modifications as it deems fit or refuse to grant such a permit: Provided that no such permit shall be granted in respect of any route or area not specified in the application.
(2) Every stage carriage permit shall be expressed to be valid only for a specified route or routes or for a specified area.
(3) The Regional Transport Authority, if it decides to grant a stage carriage permit, may grant the permit for a service of stage carriages of a specified description or for one or more particular stage carriages, and may, subject to any rules that may be made under this Act, attach to the permit any one or more of the fallowing conditions, namely,
(i) that the service or any specified part thereof shall be commenced with effect from a specified date;
(ii) the minimum and maximum number of daily services to be maintained in relation to any route or area generally or on specified days and occasions;
(iii) that copies of the time-table of the service or of particular stage carriages approved by the Regional Transport Authority shall be exhibited on the vehicles and at specified stands and halts on the route or within the area;
(iv) that the service shall be operated within such margins of deviation from the approved time-table as the Regional Transport Authority may from time to time specify;
(v) that within municipal limits and such other areas and places as may be prescribed, passengers or goods shall not be taken up or set down except at specified points;
(vi) the maximum number of passengers and the maximum weight of luggage that may be carried on any specified vehicle or on any vehicle of specified type, either generally or on specified occasions or at specified times and seasons;
(vii) the weight and nature of passengers' luggage that shall be carried free of charge, the total weight of luggage that may be carried in relation to each passenger, and the arrangements that shall be made for the carriage of luggage without causing inconvenience to passengers;
(viii) the rate of charge that may be levied for passengers' luggage in excess of the free allowance;
(ix) that vehicles of specified types fitted with bodies conforming to approved specifications shall be used : Provided that the attachment of this condition to a permit shall not prevent the continued use, for a period of two years from the date of publication of the approved specifications, of any vehicle operating on that date;
(x) that specified standards of comfort and cleanliness shall be maintained in the vehicles;
(xi) the conditions subject to which goods may be carried in any stage carriage in addition to or to the exclusion of passengers;
(xii) that fares shall be charged in accordance with the approved fare-table;
(xiii) that a copy of, or extract from, the fare-table approved by the Regional Transport Authority and particulars of any special fares or rates of fares so approved for particular occasions shall be exhibited on every stage carriage and at specified stands and halts;
(xiv) that tickets bearing specified particulars shall be issued to passengers and shall show the fares actually charged and that records of tickets issued shall be kept in a specified manner;
(xv) that mails shall be carried on any of the vehicles authorised by the permit subject to such conditions (including conditions as to the time in which mails are to be carried and the charges which may be levied) as may be specified;
(xvi) the reserve of vehicles to be kept by the holder of the permit to maintain the service and to provide for special occasions;
(xvii) the conditions subject to which any vehicle covered by the permit may be used as a contract carriage;
(xviii) that specified arrangements shall be made for the housing, maintenance and repair of vehicles;
(xix) that any specified bus station or shelter maintained by Government or a local authority shall be used and that any specified rent or fee shall be paid for such use;
(xx) that the conditions of the permit shall not be departed from save with the approval of the Regional Transport Authority;
(xxi) that the Regional Transport Authority may, after giving notice of not less than one month, (a) vary the conditions of the permit; (b) attach to the permit further conditions; (xxii) that the holder of a permit shall furnish to the Regional Transport Authority such periodical returns, statistics, and other information as the State Government may from time to time prescribe;
(xxiii) any conditions which may be prescribed." Rule 66-A Stage Carriages -- Fares to be charged. In granting or renewing a permit, the Regional Transport Authority shall attach to it the following condition, namely:-- "that the fares to be charged shall be in accordance with the table of fares which may, from time to time, be prescribed by the Regional Transport Authority." Mr. Deb on behalf of the petitioners contended that under Section 43 of the Motor Vehicles Act the State Government may from time to time issue directions regarding the fares for the stage carriage. Mr. Dev relied upon the case , N. Sathianathan v. Secy. Regional Transport Authority, Salem and argued that as in the present case there is no direction by the State Government under Section 43 any condition regarding the fare cannot be attached to the permit.
(3.)The fare tables of the stage carriage in and around the city of Calcutta, in which the petitioners are interested, have long been fixed by the R. T. A. and the said fare-tables are attached to the condition of permit. It appears that the petitioners themselves have applied to the Regional Transport Authority for the increase in the fares in view of the increase in the running costs of the buses, stage carriages in and around Calcutta for the implementation of the minimum wages in respect of the employees and they are of the opinion that the fares should be increased. These fare-tables which have already been attached as a condition of permit were effective for quite a long time. In that view of the matter the petitioners cannot BOW challenge that the R. T. A. cannot fix the fares of stage-carriage.