High Court of Punjab and Haryana, Chandigarh
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Sukhjinder Singh v. State Transport Appellate Tribunal, - CWP-3299-2006  RD-P&H 3675 (4 July 2006)
IN THE HIGH COURT OF PUJAB AND HARYANA AT CHANDIGARH.
Case No. : C.W.P.No.3299 of 2006
Date of Decision : April 18, 2006.
Sukhjinder Singh ..... Petitioner
State Transport Appellate Tribunal,
Punjab and another ..... Respondents
Coram : Hon'ble Mr.Justice J.S.Khehar
Hon'ble Mr.Justice P.S.Patwalia
* * *
Present : Mr.G.P.S.Bal, Advocate
for the petitioner.
Mr.Ashok Aggarwal, Addl.A.G., Punjab
for the respondents.
* * *
P.S.Patwalia, J. :
This order will dispose of C.W.P. Nos.3299, 3310 and 3312 of
2006. For the sake of convenience, facts are being taken from C.W.P.No. 3299 of 2006.
On 22.1.2001, applications were invited by the State of Punjab for grant of 4 stage carriage permits for plying daily return trips on the Amritsar-Pathankot via Batala-Dhariwal-Gurdaspur route. Subsequently, on 08.09.2003, further applications were invited for 14 stage carriage C.W.P.No.3299 of 2006 2
permits for plying 14 daily return trips on the same route, which were in addition to the applications earlier invited in January, 2001. In response to these notices, a total of 448 applications were received. The petitioner- Society had also applied for the grant of permit on the route in question.
The applicants were called by the State Transport Commissioner for consideration of their claims for grant of the permits in a meeting held on 11.08.2004. Out of the 448 applicants, 332 appeared, who were duly granted hearing by the State Transport Commissioner.
Since the route in question fell on the national highway as per the transport scheme, the permits were required to be granted in favour of the State Transport Undertaking and the private operators in the ratio of 75 : 25 i.e. out of 18 permits, 13 were to be granted to the State Transport Undertaking and the remaining 5, to private operators. However, the State Transport Undertaking claimed only 4 permits, thus leaving 14 permits to be granted to private operators.
Ultimately, by an order dated 29.10.2004, the State Transport Commissioner granted 14 permits to claimants other than the petitioner, who remained unsuccessful.
Against the order dated 29.10.2004 passed by the State Transport Commissioner, a number of appeals were filed before the State Transport Appellate Tribunal, Punjab, by the various unsuccessful claimants. The petitioner also filed an appeal against the said order.
However, the appeal was barred by a delay of 81 days. For the purpose of condonation of this delay, the petitioner had filed an application stating therein that the file of the case was misplaced by the counsel for the appellant and therefore, the delay in filing the appeal had occurred. This application was duly supported by an affidavit of the clerk of the counsel.
All the appeals filed by the various unsuccessful applicants including the appeal filed by the petitioner, were clubbed together and ultimately came to be decided by an order dated 01.02.2006. The appeals C.W.P.No.3299 of 2006 3
filed by other unsuccessful applicants who had challenged the grant of 14 permits to private operators were allowed by the State Transport Appellate Tribunal. The 14 permits granted by the Regional Transport Authority, Jalandhar were cancelled and the matter was remanded back to the authority to pass a fresh speaking order in the following terms :- "The permits granted to Respondent Nos. 4 to 17 are cancelled. The matter is remanded to the R.T.A.
Jalandhar. The R.T.A. is directed to pass a fresh speaking order regarding the grant of 14 permits after hearing the appellants of these 29 appeals and Respondent Nos. 4 to 17, within three months of the date of receipt of a certified copy of this order. In view of the provisions of Section 104 of the Act , the R.T.A. shall ensure that nine out of the fourteen permits are granted temporarily subject to the conditions of Section 104 of the Act. While passing the fresh order, the R.T.A. shall meticulously compare the merits and qualifications of the aforesaid contestants and grant the permits to those who have better merits. It shall give pertinent hearing to the respondents and appellants and their counsel and discuss all the points raised by them. It shall record reasons why it is granting permits to those whom it decides to grant and why these are being refused to the others. The parties are directed to appear before the R.T.A. Jalandhar on 26.02.2006. Till the R.T.A. passes a fresh order, Respondent Nos.4 to 17 shall be allowed to continue with their operation subject to usual conditions.
R.T.A. record be returned. Appeal files be consigned to record room."
In so far as the appeal filed by the petitioner is concerned, it C.W.P.No.3299 of 2006 4
was, however, rejected on the ground that it was barred by limitation. The relevant observations of the State Transport Appellate Tribunal, in the case of petitioner, are as hereunder :-
"Appellants of appeal Nos. 72/2005, 73/2005 and 74/2005 are new entrant. They have claimed knowledge of the impugned order w.e.f. 8.12.2004, 13.12.2004 and 7.12.2004 respectively. They got copies of the impugned order on 8.12.2004, 13.12.2004 and 8.12.2004 respectively. They could thus file appeals upto 8.1.2005, 13.1.2005 and 6.1.2005 respectively. On the other hand all of them have filed appeals on 18.2.2005. They have sought condonation of delay in filing the appeals on the ground that the files of the cases were misplaced by their counsel. The files were traced on 17.2.2005 and then the appeals were filed on 18.2.2005. Affidavit of Mr.Sanjay Kumaar, Clerk of learned counsel for the appellant in support of this plea has been submitted. However, the fact is that this Tribunal does not have the power to condone the delay. In Ramnath Prasad versus State Transport Appellate Tribunal, Bihar, Patna and others- AIR 1957 Patna, 117, it has been held that Section 5 of the Limitation Act does not apply to the appeals filed under the Act. As such this Tribunal has jurisdiction to extend the period of limitation or any power to abridge the time for filing the appeal. In Laxmi Chand versus The State of Rajasthan and others, AIR 1976 Rajasthan 197, it has been held that the provisions of Section 5 of the Limitation Act are confined to `Courts' and are not applicable to the Tribunals constituted under the Act.
Since this Tribunal is not a `Court', it can not, therefore, C.W.P.No.3299 of 2006 5
condone the delay in filing the appeal under the Act.
Learned Counsel for the appellants has cited S.S.Rathore vs. State of M.P., AIR 1990, Supreme Court
10. It is of no help to the appellants because it only says that Article 113 of the Limitation Act applies to suits to which no other Article in the First Schedule of the Limitation Act applies. This ruling does not controvert the rulings aforesaid of the Hon'ble Patna and Rajasthan High Courts to the effect that Section of the Limitation Act applies only to `Courts' and not to the Tribunal constituted under the Act. No other law to the contrary has been cited by the learned counsel for the appellants. As such appeal Nos. 72/2005, 73/2005 and 74/2005 are held to be barred by limitation." It is contention of the learned counsel for the petitioner that in the application for condonation of delay, the petitioner had made out a sufficient ground on the basis that the file of the case was misplaced by the counsel and immediately after the file was traced on 17.02.2005, the appeal was filed on the very next date i.e. on 18.02.2005. The counsel submitted that the petitioner was, therefore, actively pursuing the matter and the delay had occurred bona fide. It is the further contention of the learned counsel for the petitioner that in any case, once the order passed by the Regional Transport Authority, Jalandhar, granting the permits, had been set aside and the matter had been remanded back for re-consideration after comparing the merits and qualifications of the remaining appellants as also the original allottees of the permits, it was but fair and just that the claim of the petitioner, who was also an applicant for the same permits, should be considered as well.
Having examined the matter in the light of the aforesaid factual position, we are of the opinion that once the matter has been remanded back C.W.P.No.3299 of 2006 6
for a fresh consideration of the claim of the appellants as also the original allottees of the permits, before the Tribunal, it would be fair and just that the claim of the petitioner who was also an applicant and had also agitated the matter before the appellate Tribunal, should be considered as well. The only distinction between the case of the petitioner and the other appellants is that the appeal filed by the petitioner was delayed by a period of 81 days.
However, we are of the opinion that the petitioner has given a satisfactory explanation as to why this delay had occurred. The petitioner had agitated the matter in appeal. Therefore, once the matter is being re-considered viz- a-viz other appellants and the original allottees, the claim of the petitioner is also liable to be considered.
For the reasons mentioned above, the order passed by the State Transport Appellate Tribunal is set aside to the extent the appeal filed by the petitioner was rejected and it is further directed that the Regional Transport Authority, Jalandhar shall consider the claim of the petitioner also viz-a-viz claims of the remaining appellants and the original allottees in terms of the final direction given by the State Transport Appellate Tribunal.
In the circumstances of the case, there shall, however, be no order as to costs.
( P.S.Patwalia )
April 18, 2006 ( J.S.Khehar )
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