STATE OF MADHYA PRADESH THROUG PRINCIPAL SECRETARY & ANR. Vs. MAHENDRA GUPTA & ORS

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Title of case : STATE OF MADHYA PRADESH THROUG PRINCIPAL SECRETARY & ANR. Vs. MAHENDRA GUPTA & ORS.

Citation : Civil Appeal No. 1562 of 2018 (Arising out of SLP (C) No. 35738 of 2017)

Court : Supreme Court of India

Bench : A.K. Sikri and Ashok Bhushan

Date Decided: 08.02.2018

Appellant: STATE OF MADHYA PRADESH THROUG PRINCIPAL SECRETARY & ANR.

Respondent : MAHENDRA GUPTA & ORS.


Statutes and provision applied:

Motor Vehicles Act, 1988. Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (CPC). Madhya Pradesh Motor Vehicles Rules, 1994.

Case Category: ORDINARY CIVIL MATTER - STAGE CARRIAGE PERMITS

Facts

The writ Petitioners have permanent permit for two routes, one Gwalior to Bhander and second Gwalior to Datia. Respondent No. 3 has also the permanent permit for the route Gwalior to Jhansi. Respondent No. 3 preferred an application for modification of time Schedule for movement of his vehicle. The application of Respondent No. 3 came for hearing before the State Transport Authority on 16.10.2014. On the date of hearing both counsel for the applicant as well as counsel for the objectors were heard. The State Transport Authority allowed the modification and decided to change the time Schedule as prayed by the applicant in the public interest. The order was issued by the State Transport Authority on 15.12.2014. Aggrieved by the order dated 15.12.2014, Writ Petition No. 883 of 2015 was filed by the two Petitioners who were objectors before the State Transport Authority. In the writ petition various grounds were taken questioning the application filed by the applicant-Pawan Arora. One of the grounds taken before the learned Single Judge was that although the State Transport Authority heard the matter on 16.10.2014 consisted of Chairperson and two members, however, the order was delivered with the signatures of Chairperson and only one member, since one member, Shri Sanjay Choudhary was transferred in the meanwhile, hence, the order dated 15.12.2014 is illegal. The learned Single Judge accepted the contention of the writ Petitioners and allowed the writ petition by setting aside the order dated 15.12.2014.

The State of Madhya Pradesh filed writ appeal challenging the judgment of the learned Singe Judge. The State contended before the Division Bench of the High Court that there was no illegality in the order issued by the Chairperson and one member, although, it was heard by three members when the meeting took place on 16.10.2014. The Division Bench dismissed the appeal upholding the view of the learned Single Judge.


Issue

Whether the order passed by the State Transport Authority was illegal or not, as the order only had signatures of the Chairperson and one member whereas the matter was heard by three persons, that is the Chairperson and two members of the Committee.


Arguments Advanced from the side of Petitioner

The appeal contends that under the Madhya Pradesh Motor Vehicles Rules, 1994 quorum of the meeting of the State Transport Authority is three-Chairman plus two members and quorum was complete when the meeting was held on 16.10.2014, the decision delivered by the majority of the members is in no manner illegal. It is submitted that after hearing, one member was transferred and was not available to be part of the order issued on 15.12.2014. It is submitted that even it is assumed that one member was not agreeing with the decision of two other members, although, there is no such pleading or material on the record, the decision taken by the majority of the members was fully valid and there was no infirmity in the order dated 15.12.2014. It is submitted that the learned Single Judge as well as Division Bench committed error in taking the view that the order dated 15.12.2014 was an illegal order. The learned counsel for the petitioner also referred to the cases like Ramaswamy Nadar v. The State of Madras, Gokal Chand-Jagan Nath v. Nand Ram Das-Atma Ram and A. Shanta Rao v. State Transport Appellate Tribunal, Hyderabad and Ors, to strengthen his argument.


Arguments advanced from the side of Respondent

Learned Counsel for the Respondents supported the order of the High Court and contends that when one member who heard the matter on 16.10.2014 was not available, no decision could have been taken by the State Transport Authority. He submits that the matter was heard by three members, hence decision could have been issued only by three members and the views taken by the learned Single Judge and Division Bench are in accordance with law.


Judgement

1. The present is a case where Chairperson and two members heard the application in meeting dated 16.10.2014 but order was subsequently pronounced on 15.12.2014 and signed by only Chairperson and one member. The third member having been transferred in the meanwhile. As noticed above, there is no pleading in the writ petition as to whether the third member, who was transferred had agreed with the proposed order or did not agree with the decision, which was to be delivered by the State Transport Authority. Had third member agreed, there cannot be any debate in this matter, the issues being covered by judgment of this Court in Ramaswamy Nadar (supra) and judgment of the Privy Council in Gokal Chand-Jagan Nath (supra). But there being neither any pleading nor any material to come to the conclusion that the third member has agreed with the opinion, the Supreme Court proceeded to examine the present case as if, the third member did not agree with the order proposed.

2. The court already noticed the reason for coming to the conclusion that the order issued by the State Transport Authority, signed by the Chairperson and one member is a valid order having been issued with the majority opinion of two out of three, who heard the application on 16.10.2014. Thus, in any view of the matter, no illegality can be attached with the order dated 15.12.2014, which was signed by the Chairperson and one member.

3. In view of the foregoing discussion, the court was of the opinion that decision dated 15.12.2014 issued with the signatures of Chairperson and one member was a valid decision in spite of the fact that one of the members who was present in the hearing when the meeting took place on 16.10.2014 and had been transferred in the meanwhile did not sign the order. The decision of the State Transport Authority dated 15.12.2014 was fully in accordance with the statutory scheme of the Rules, 1994 and both the learned Single Judge and Division Bench erred in holding the decision as invalid. We, thus, are of the view that judgments of learned Single Judge and Division Bench do not express the correct view of the law.

4. In the result, the appeal is allowed and judgments of the High Court are set aside.


References

1. State of Madhya Pradesh and Ors. vs. Mahendra Gupta and Ors. (08.02.2018 - SC) : MANU/SC/0097/2018

2. https://indiankanoon.org/doc/191028875/

3. https://main.sci.gov.in/supremecourt/2017/29578/29578_2017_Judgement_08-Feb-2018.pdf