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Indian Case Summary

Prakash Chandra Sahu And Ors. vs Managing Director, O.R.T. Co. And … on 17 July, 1979 – Case Summary

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In the case of Prakash Chandra Sahu And Ors. vs Managing Director, O.R.T. Co. And … on 17 July, 1979, the Orissa High Court was presented with a batch of writ petitions consolidated for hearing due to the common questions of law involved. The petitioners were motor bus operators in the districts of Puri, Ganjam, and Cuttack in the State of Orissa. The opposite party, O.R.T. Company, Berhampur, Ganjam, a State Transport Undertaking, had published nine draft schemes for nationalising passenger transport service over nine different routes in these districts, as required under Section 68-C of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1939.

Facts of the Case

The draft schemes were published in the Orissa Gazette, inviting objections or representations. The Transport Minister heard the objections under Section 68-D (2) of the Act and approved the schemes with certain modifications. The petitioners filed writ applications to quash the Minister’s order and the approved and draft schemes. Before the approved schemes were implemented, some of the writ applications were filed, and status quo was directed to be maintained until further orders.

Issues Raised

The petitioners raised several contentions, including the claim that the Orissa Road Transport Company Limited was not a “State Transport Undertaking” as defined in Section 68-A, Clause (b) of the Act. They also argued that the draft and approved schemes were invalid as they did not publish all the required particulars. Other contentions included the claim that the approved scheme did not provide an efficient, adequate, economical, and properly coordinated road transport service, and thus, it was not in public interest. They also accused the Transport Minister of bias and mala fides.

Court’s Observations and Ruling

The court observed that the Orissa Road Transport Company Limited was indeed a “State Transport Undertaking” as it was fully controlled by the Orissa State Government. The court also noted that the function of the State Government or any officer authorised by it for hearing objections under Sub-section (2) of Section 68-D of the Act was quasi-judicial in nature. Therefore, the petitioners had essentially asked for a relief of issuance of a writ of certiorari to quash the schemes.

The court also noted that the jurisdiction of the court to issue a writ of certiorari was supervisory and not entitled to act as an appellate court. This meant that the findings of fact reached by the inferior court or tribunal as a result of the appreciation of evidence could not be reopened or questioned in the writ petitions.

The court also observed that the particulars required by Section 68-C of the Act and the Rules were manifestly required to enable transport operators running their vehicles on the routes proposed to be nationalised to know that they were affected by the scheme and might, if they saw sufficient reasons therefore, prefer objections under Section 68-D (1). The court found that the scheme gave the two pieces of information required by Section 68-C of the Act and such other particulars which the Rules prescribed. Therefore, the court rejected the contention that the draft and approved schemes were invalid as they did not publish all the required particulars.

The court also rejected other contentions raised by the petitioners and upheld the validity of the draft and approved schemes.