(1.)This is a petition under Art. 32 of the Constitution to quash the order of the first respondent dated April 28, 1960, and the scheme dated April 20, 1960, and to direct the first respondent to deal with the application of the petitioner for renewal of its permit in accordance with law.
(2.)The petitioner was doing business of motor transport in Bombay State for over 20 years. It had four permanent stage carriage permits granted some years ago and renewed from time to time to ply buses on the following routes:
(i) Yeotmal-Umerkhed .. 2 return-trips.
(ii) Yeotmal-Pusad. .. 4return trips.
The term of the latest permits expired on December 31, 1959. About four months prior to the expiry of the permits the petitioner applied on August 24, 1959, for the renewal of the permits under S. 58(2) of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1939 (Act IV of 1939) (hereinafter called the Act). On October 29, 1959, the State Transport Department published its proposed scheme for the nationalization of the road transport services in respect of an area which included the routes of the petitioner. On November 9, 1959, the petitioner wrote a letter to the Secretary, the Regional; Transport Authority, Nagpur, asking him why its application for renewal of the stage carriage permits had not been published as required by S. 57 of the Act. It also expressed its apprehension that the application was not published by the Regional Transport Authority with a view to assist the State Transport Department in ousting it from the said routes and that the Authority was creating a situation in order to force the petitioner to accept temporary permits under S. 62(d) of the Act. The Secretary, the Regional Transport Authority, by his letter dated November 11, 1959, replied to the effect that the application for renewal had been published on November 8, 1959, and that the said application would be considered before the expiry date and that no question of issuing temporary permits would arise. On November 19, 1959, the Assistant Manager of the State Transport Department on behalf of the State Transport Department, filed applications before the Regional Transport Authority for issue of permits to it in respect of the said two routes among others. It was mentioned therein that as per the notification published in the Bombay Government Gazette dated October 29, 1959, the Provincial Transport Services proposed to take over the aforesaid routes from January 1, 1960. The Provincial Transport Services also filed objections against the renewal of the permits in favour of the petitioner. On December 10, 1959, the said applications were published in the Gazette and it was notified therein that representations, if any, should be submitted on or before December 15, 1959, and that the said objections along with the applications for permits would be considered in a meeting to be held by the Regional Transport Authority in the month of December, 1959, at Nagpur or at a later date which may be notified in due course. On December 21, 1959, the Secretary of the Regional Transport Authority intimated to the petitioner that in the meeting of the Regional Transport Authority scheduled to be held on December 31, 1959, it would not be possible to consider its applications for renewal due to " heavy agenda". It was also suggested to it to apply for the grant of temporary permits pending renewal in good time so that they could be issued before the due date. The petitioner on the same date replied to that letter wherein it pointed out that " the heavy agenda mentioned in your letter is, we hold, a design to cover your attempt to advance the cause of the Provincial Transport Services, (U. G. O.), Nagpur". Without prejudice to its rights the petitioner applied for temporary permits as directed by the Authority. On December 29, 1959 temporary permits were issued for one month from January 1, 1960, and thereafter they were extended for another month and made available upto March 31, 1960. The next meeting of the Regional Transport Authority scheduled to be held on February 5, 1960, was adjourned to February 24, 1960, and on January 22, 1960, the Chief Minister of Bombay issued notices to the petitioner and others that objections to the proposed scheme would be heard on February 24, 1960; but on the said date the applications were not disposed of on the ground that the matter was sub judice in the High Court of Bombay. On March 17, 1960, the Provincial Transport Services filed a fresh application before the Regional Transport Authority under Ch. IVA of the Act for the grant of permits for plying buses on the routes mentioned therein. It was also brought to the notice of the Regional Transport Authority that the Provincial Transport Services desired to operate the routes in question from May 1, 1960, or any other date as may be fixed by the Regional Transport Authority. Presumably, the second application was filed as the earlier application was filed not under Ch. IV but under Ch. IVA of the Act on the basis of the proposed scheme. On March 31, 1960, the Regional Transport Authority met again, but the applications for renewal of permits filed by the petitioner were not taken up for consideration. It is suggested that as 30 days had not expired from the date of the filing of the applications by the Provincial Transport Services the petitioner's applications could not be taken up for consideration. On April 14, 1960, the Chief Minister of Bombay heard the objections and on April 19, 1960, the scheme with modifications was duly approved by the Government and published on April 20, 1960. The approved scheme covered only the routes in respect of which only temporary permits were issued and excluded the routes in regard to which pucca permits were issued. The approved scheme included the petitioner's routes. On April 20, 1960, the applications were again adjourned to April 29, 1960. On April 26, 1960, the petitioner moved this Court under Art. 32 of the Constitution and on April 28, 1960, the petition was dismissed as premature. On the same day even though the Regional Transport Authority was informed that this Court was moved by the petitioner its renewal applications were rejected on the ground that the scheme was approved by the Government. The present petition was filed on April 29, 1960, for the aforesaid reliefs.
(3.)The main contention of learned counsel, Mr. A .V. Viswanatha Sastri, for the petitioner, is that the Regional Transport Authority was actuated by mala fides in the disposal of the applications for renewal of the permits, and that though under the provisions of the Act it had no alternative but to renew the permits of the petitioner it adjourned the matter from time to time with an evil design to enable the Govt. to approve the scheme. In that situation, he contends, the proper course is to set aside the order of the Regional Transport Authority and direct it to dispose of the petitioner's applications for renewal of permits as on the date when they are filed.