Lakshmi Prasad, J.
1. Regional Transport Authority, Lucknow Region, Lucknow prefers this appeal from the decision of a learned Single Judge allowing the respondent's petition under; Article 226 of the Constitution.
2. On 9th August, 1962 the respondent held a stage carriage permit on Barabanki-Kotwa route. It was valid up to 8th August, 1965. The said route was notified on 1st December, 1962 stating that the U. P. Government Road-ways would start plying buses with effect from 16th December, 1962, The respondent applied on 13th December, 1962 for an alternative route as a displaced operator. A true copy of that application is annexure 1 to the petition. In this application he indicated that he may be given an alternative permit on one of the three routes, namely Lucknow-Hardoi, Barabanki-Faizabad and Sitapur-Hardoi. On 15th December, 1962 Regional Transport Authority, Lucknow Region, Lucknow raised strength on Hardoi-Sitapur route from 6 to 14 and invited applications to fill the vacancies thus arising. A number of persons applied. Khushal Chand Mehrotra was one of them.
On 19th January, 1963 the application of the respondent dated 13th December, 1962 came up for consideration before the Regional Transport Authority. By its resolution the Regional Transport Authority decided that the Secretary Member should dispose of the matter. A copy of that resolution is Annexure 3 to the' petition. On 16th February, 1963 the Secretary offered an alternative permit to the respondent on Hardoi-Sitapur route. Annexure 4 to the petition is a true copy of that offer. It is on page 24 of the paper book. As appears from annexure 5 (Copy on page 26 of the paper book) which is a true copy of the respondent's acceptance, the respondent accepted the aforesaid offer on the same date, namely, 16th February, 1963. On 18th February, 1963 Khushal Chand Mehrotra filed an objection before the Chairman. Regional Transport Authority against the proposal to grant a permit to the respondent on Hardoi-Sitapur route. A true copy of that objection is annexure 6 to the petition.
On the same date the Chairman called upon the Regional Transport Officer to submit his report and directed that the issue of permit be stayed. A true copy of that order is annexure 7 to the petition. On 25th February, 1963 Ganga Dhar Mehrotra, an existing operator of that route, moved another objection before the Chairman, Regional Transport Authority taking exception to the move to bring some displaced operators on Hardoi-Sitapur route. The matter thus remained pending before the Regional Transport Authority till 2nd May, 1963, when the said authority decided to grant an alternative permit to the respondent on Hardoi-Shahjahanpur route instead of Hardoi-Sitapur route which was one of the routes desired by the respondent and had been actually accepted by him, on the offer made in that behalf by the Secretary-Member of the Regional Transport Authority. Aggrieved by this order of the Regional Transport Authority, the respondent moved a petition under Article 226 of the Constitution praying that the same be quashed and the Regional Transport Authority be directed to issue a permit to the respondent on Hardoi-Sitapur route.
2A. In identical circumstances a Division Bench of this Court in writ petition No. 296 of 1963, D/- 7-8-1964 (All), Jugal Kishore Agarwal v. Regional Transport Authority, quashed a similar order passed by the Regional Transport Authority and directed the Authority to issue a permit to Jugal Kishore Agarwal on Hardoi-Sitapur route on which he had been offered an alternative permit and which permit he had already accepted. As appears from the judgment of the Division Bench in that writ petition, two contentions were raised on behalf of the Regional Transport Authority against the prayer made by the petitioner in that case. The first contention was that the Regional Transport Authority had every jurisdiction to vary the offer once made under Section 68-G (2) of the Motor Vehicles Act notwithstanding its acceptance by the displaced operator. The other contention was that the offer having been made by the Secretary-Member of the Regional Transport Authority was not a valid offer at all within the ambit of Sub-section (2) of Section 68-G of the Motor Vehicles Act notwithstanding a resolution of the Regional Transport Authority delegating power to the Secretary-Member in that behalf since it was a matter in respect of which there could be no valid delegation.
3. Relying on the case of Abdul Gafoor v. State of Mysore, AIR 1961 SC 1556, the Division Bench repelled the contention that there could be no valid delegation. The material observations made by the Division Bench In that case run as below:---
"It is true that judicial or quasi-judicial function cannot be delegated by one authority to another without specific authority to that effect in the legislation but where an authority exercises merely administrative powers it can delegate its powers to another authority. When the action to be taken is mechanical or ministerial in nature power can be delegated without any specific authority having been conferred in that behalf by the Statute or the rules made thereunder. Thus the Regional Transport Authority could, as it did by its resolution, delegate its powers to its Secretary to dispose of the application of the petitioner. Therefore, when the Regional Transport Officer made an offer to the petitioner for permit on the Hardoi-Sitapur route he was doing so validly and in exercise of the powers conferred on him by the Regional Transport Authority."
As regards the other contention, the Division Bench observes:--
"The offer was duly made and it was accepted. The agreement was thus complete and it was no more open to the Regional Transport Authority to revoke the offer and make offer for another route. Sub-section (2) of Section 68-G lays down that notwithstanding anything contained in Sub-section (1), no compensation would be payable on account of the cancellation of any existing permit or any modification of the terms thereof, when a permit for an alternative route or area in lieu thereof has been offered by the Regional Transport Authority accepted by the holder of the permit. The intention of the Legislature in enacting this provision was that an offer for permit of another route should be made to a displaced operator and once he accepts it the agreement is complete and it is no more open to him to claim compensation. Likewise it is not open to the Regional Transport Authority as well to resile from its offer once it has been made and duly accepted."
4. It was on the basis of the aforesaid reasoning that the contentions raised by the Regional Transport Authority were repelled and Jugal Kishore Agarwal, petitioner in that case, was granted the relief already indicated above. Learned Single Judge, who disposed of the case under appeal, felt himself bound by the decision of the Division Bench and accordingly allowed the petition of the respondent quashing the impugned order giving an alternative permit to the respondent on Hardoi-Shahjahanpur route and directing the Regional Transport Authority to grant him an alternative permit on Hardoi-Sitapur route as already agreed to between the parties.
5. When this special appeal came up before a Division Bench of which one of us was a member, it was ordered that the appeal be listed before a larger Bench as it appeared that the decision of the Division Bench in the case of WP No. 296 of 1963. D/- 7-8-1964 (All) required reconsideration. It is in these circumstances that this special appeal has come up before us.
6. We have heard the learned counsel for the parties at some length. We have been addressed on those very two points which the Division Bench decided hi the manner indicated above. The first and the foremost contention of the learned Standing Counsel appearing for the appellant is that having regard to the provisions of the Act and the rules made thereunder, there could be no valid delegation of the power exercisable by the Regional Transport Authority under section 68-G (2) in favour of another authority. In this connection he places reliance on Sub-section (5) of Section 44 of the Motor Vehicles Act and on the relevant rules framed under Sections 68 and 68-I of the said Act, namely, rule no. 10 of the U. P. State Road Transport Services (Development) Rules. 1958 and Rule 44-A of the U. P, Motor Vehicles Rules. 1940. As against that the contention of the learned counsel for the respondent is that in so far as the act to be performed by the Regional Transport Authority under Sub-section (2) of Section 68-G is a purely administrative act, it can very well be delegated to another authority. He argues, as has been laid down by the Division Bench, that in a matter purely administrative the authority empowered to act can validly delegate its functions even in the absence of any express provision in that behalf.
7. The cases that have been cited on the point are Pradyat Kumar Bose v. Hon'ble Chief Justice of Calcutta High Court, AIR 1956 SC 285. AIR 1961 SC 1556 and Kalyan Singh v. State of Uttar Pradesh, AIR 1962 SC 1183.
8. In the case of AIR 1956 SC 285 (supra) the material observations which occur in paragraph 11 of the report are:--
"It is well recognised that a statutory functionary exercising such a power cannot be said to have delegated his functions merely by deputing a responsible and competent official to enquire and report That is the ordinary mode of exercise of any administrative power. What cannot be delegated except where the law specifically so provides is the ultimate responsibility for the exercise of such power."
9. In AIR 1961 SC 1556 (supra) the material observations which occur in. paragraph 11 of the report are :--
"In our opinion, the Regional Transport Authority acts wholly in a ministerial capacity while dealing with an application of the State Transport Undertaking under Section 68-F(1). The fact that on other occasions and in other matters the Regional Transport Authority has quasi-judicial functions to perform cannot make its functions under Section 68-F(1) a quasi-judicial function."
In paragraph 9 of the same case it is observed:--
"It appears to us that when deciding what action to take under Section 68-P"(2) the authority is tied down by the terms and conditions of the approved scheme and his duty is merely to do what is necessary to give effect to the provisions of the scheme. The refusal to entertain applications for renewal of permits or cancellation of permits or modification of terms if existing permits really flow from the scheme. The duty is, therefore, merely mechanical; and it will be incorrect to say that there is in these matters any Us between the existing operators and the State Transport Undertaking which is to be decided by the Regional Transport Authority."
10. In AIR 1962 SC 1183 (Supra) the material observations which occur in paragraph 18 of the report are :--
"Nor is there any substance in the last contention. The orders passed under Section 68-F(2) (a) and (b) flow from the publication of the scheme duly approved and the issue of an order, which is not quasi-judicial but administrative, by the Secretary on behalf of the Regional Transport Authority is not open to challenge. It is not the case of the petitioner in W. P. 205/61 in which alone this contention is raised that the order is unauthorised What is contended is that the order being quasi-judicial power to make it cannot be delegated. But for reasons already set out the order is not quasi-judicial; it is purely administrative."
Sub-section (5) of Section 44 of the Motor Vehicles Act provides:--
"The State Transport Authority and any Regional Transport Authority, if authorised in this behalf by rules made under Section 68, may delegate such of its powers and functions to such authority or person and subject to such restrictions, limitations and conditions as may be prescribed by the said rules."
Rule 10 of the U. P, State Road Transport Services (Development) Rules, 1958 provides :---
"The Regional Transport Authority concerned may, by notification in the official Gazette, delegate all or any of its functions, duties and powers specified in Sub-sections (1) and (2) of Section 68F of the Act to the Regional Transport Officer or such other officer as may be specified in the notification."
11. It is unnecessary to reproduce the whole of Rule 44-A of the U. P. Motor Vehicles Rules, 1940. It is sufficient to say that it pertains to delegation of power by a State or Regional Transport Authority. Even though among other powers it refers to the power to grant private stage carriage permits, it does not refer to the power to grant stage carriage permits. The expression "private stage carriage" is defined in Clause (U) 01 Rule 2 of the U. P. Motor Vehicles Rules, 1940 to mean any motor vehicle constructed or adopted to carry more than 9 persons excluding the driver and used by or on behalf of the owner exclusively in connection with his trade or business or private purposes but not for hire or reward. It is thus obvious that neither of the two rules authorises the Regional Transport Authority to delegate its functions under Section 68-G(2) in respect of a stage carriage permit. Section 44(5) of the Act came up for interpretation in the case of V. Dhanmull Sowcar v. Secretary Regional Transport Authority at Vellore North Arcot, AIR 1957 Mad 387. The Division Bench deciding the case ruled, vide page 391:
"The ambit of Section 44(5) is the entirety of the powers and functions, the statutory powers and functions of the State Transport Authority and those of the Regional Transport Authority as well as the functions of the State Transport Authority founded ultimately on Section 44 (3) (d). Both as a matter of plain language of Section 44(5) and as one of the intendment of the legislature, it seems clear to us that what Section 44(5) provides for is delegation of any of its powers and functions, by the Transport Authority concerned to a person or authority specified by an appropriate rule framed by the State Government under Section 68 of the Act"
We are in respectful agreement with the observations made in the above cited Madras case with reference to the scope of section 44(5). That being so, it necessarily follows that in the matter of delegation neither the State Transport Authority nor the Regional Transport Authority can act in a manner otherwise than that provided by Section 44(5). In other words, none of these authorities is empowered to delegate any of its powers or functions under the Act otherwise than in accordance with the rules to be framed under Section 68 of the Act. Judged in the background of the statutory provisions referred to above, there is no escape from the conclusion that the Regional Transport Authority was incompetent to delegate to its Secretary-Member, as it did by its resolution dated 19th January, 1963 in the instant case, to exercise powers under Section 68-G(2) with reference to the application of the respondent moved on 13th December, 1962. It thus follows that the view expressed by the Division Bench to the contrary in the case of WP No. 296 of 1963, D/-7-8-1964 (All) cannot be upheld.
It is also difficult to agree with the view of the Division Bench that the act of Regional Transport Authority under Sec, 68-G(2) is only a ministerial or mechanical act. Observations made by the Supreme Court in the case of Abdul Gafoor, AIR 1961 SC 1556 relied on by the Division Bench with reference to the provisions of Section 68F do not appear to have application to the power exercisable under section 68-G(2). As is pointed by the Supreme Court in paragraph 9 of the report, the entire action under Section 68-F is taken in accordance with the terms of the approved scheme. That being so, no discretion is left with the authority required to take action under section 68F in respect of the various matters enumerated therein. On the other hand, each of such matters stands governed by the terms of the scheme which has already been approved and finalised. It is in such circumstances that the Supreme Court held that the actions to be taken under Section 68-F are more or less mechanical.
It is rarely, if ever, that any direction is given in the approved scheme with regard to an alternative route being provided to a displaced operator. What normally happens is that after the approved scheme had been given effect to by taking action under section 68-G(2) there arises an obligation to determine the compensation admissible to displaced operators and it is then that the Regional Transport Authority is called upon to offer an alternative permit in exercise of its discretion, if available, to a displaced operator in accordance with the facts and circumstances of each case. It shall thus be seen that the action to be taken under Section 68-G(2), though no doubt an occasion for it arises only when an approved scheme has been given effect to, is not one to be taken in accordance with the directions contained in the approved scheme.
So in any view of the matter, there can be no delegation of the power exercisable under Section 68-G(2) by the Regional Transport Authority either because it is not a purely mechanical or ministerial act or because of the specific provision in section 44(5) of the Act in the absence of any rule in that behalf. We accordingly conclude that there was no valid delegation in favour of the Regional Transport Officer so as to entitle him to make an offer to the respondent within Section 68-G(2).
11. Coming to the other question, we find that its determination mainly depends on the interpretation to be placed on section 63-G(2). It says:--
"Notwithstanding anything contained in Sub-section (1), no compensation shall be payable on account of the cancellation of any existing permit or any modification of the terms thereof, when a permit for an alternative route or area in lieu thereof has been offered by the Regional Transport Authority and accepted by the holder of the permit"
The contention of the learned counsel for the appellant is that, having regard to the scheme of the Act and the provision contained in Sub-section (1) of section 68G regarding compensation payable to a displaced operator, the Division Bench clearly erred when it imported notions of a contract in interpreting section 68G(2). As against that, the contention of the learned counsel for the respondent is that, having regard to the scheme of Chapter IV-A of the Act, just as no discretion is left with the authority in regard to actions to be taken under section 68F, hardly any discretion is left with the Authority in regard to action to be taken under section 68G(2) once an offer has been made and accepted. The argument is that the plain language of Sub-section (2) of Section 68G admits of only one interpretation and that is that the displaced operator becomes disentitled to compensation admissible to him under Sub-section (1) the moment he accepts the offer made by the Authority for an alternative permit with the result that the Authority is left with no jurisdiction to vary that offer subsequent thereto. This stand appears to have found favour with the Division Bench. Learned Counsel for the respondent has also drawn our attention to certain observations made by one of the Judges of the Division Bench in the case of Regional Transport Authority, Gorakhpur v. Sri Kashi Prasad Gupta, AIR 1962 All 551. The observations which occur in paragraph 114 (page 569) run as below:--
"Section 68-G(2) enjoins that no compensation shall be payable in respect of any existing permit when a permit for an alternative route or area in lieu thereof has been offered to the holder of the permit and accepted by him. The provision clearly excludes the application of the elaborate procedure under Chapter IV for the grant of a permit under Section 68-G(2). The grant of a permit under Section 47 is discretionary, whereas the Regional Transport Authority is legally bound to grant a permit under Section 68-G (2) after the offer of an alternative route has been accepted by the displaced operator, and there is no discretion left with the Authority in the matter. The obligation to grant a permit is enforceable under the law as the displaced operator has surrendered his right to compensation in consideration of an alternative permit. Any consideration of such displaced operator's application for permit under Section 47 must be a farce as it would be impossible for the authority to perform its duty under that section under the burden of obligation to grant a permit under Section 68-G(2). It is thus clear that the duty to "consider" an application under Section 47 cannot be reconciled with the obligation under Section 68-G(2) to grant a permit after the offer has been accepted. The two sections apply to entirely different case."
Some of these observations no doubt assist the learned counsel.
12. We do not think it necessary to pursue this matter any further because we find that in view of our decision on the first point recorded above, whatever be the decision on this point it will not affect the decision of the case before us. That being so, any expression of opinion on our part on this question would be in the nature of obiter. We, therefore, leave it there after noting at some length the arguments raised before us by either side.
13. In view of our finding that there was no valid delegation in favour of the Regional Transport Officer i.e. the Secretary who made the offer in the instant case, it necessarily follows that the acceptance of such an offer by the respondent can be of no avail for the simple reason that the offer emanated from an authority not competent to make the same even if it be assumed for the moment that an offer once made under Section 68-G(2) and accepted by the displaced operator cannot be varied subsequent thereto. So the ground on which proceeds the decision of the learned Single Judge fails and, as such, the decision cannot be sustained.
However, it may here be noted that the respondent attacked the impugned order on various other grounds but the learned Judge did not advert to any one of them presumably because he thought that in view of the decision of the Division Bench in the case of Jugal Kishore Agarwal the respondent was entitled to relief whatever be the decision on other points raised by him in the petition. In the circumstances the case has to go back for determination of other points arising in the case by a learned Single Judge. By way of illustration we may mention that one of the points raised by the respondent is that in any case the appellant could not by its unilateral act force an alternative route on the respondent as the appellant actually did on 2nd May, 1963. A mere reading of section 68G (1) and (2) would show that primarily the right of a displaced operator is to get compensation and he can be deprived of it only when he accepts an alternative route offered to him. Thus the imposition of the alternative route (Hardoi-Shahjahanpur) on the respondent without even consulting him in the matter clearly furnishes the respondent with a cause of action requiring consideration. There are some other questions also raised in the petition which require consideration. So the case has got to be remanded for the disposal of all the points arising in it.
14. In the end we allow the special appeal and setting aside the order passed by the learned Single Judge direct that the petition be disposed of afresh after deciding various points arising in it. We make no order as to costs.