1. The petitioner is an existing stage carriage operator. He is operating on the Panangad - South Chittoor road using state carriage No. KL-39-N-3222. In this writ petition filed under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, the petitioner challenges Ext.P2 decision of the Regional Transport Authority, Ernakulam whereby a fresh regular stage carriage permit was granted to the 4th respondent to conduct service on the route Edappally Railway Gate - Chathamma categorizing the route as an 'ordinary mofussil service'.2. It is the case of the petitioner that the route is a city or town service as defined under clause (ca) of Rule 2 of the Kerala Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989. If that be the case, the number of permits that could be granted to operate city/town service in Kochi City having been exhausted, no permit could have been issued, as has been done in the case of the 4th respondent. The petitioner asserts that the 4th respondent has managed to prevail upon the Field officer to submit a wrong report curtailing the distance from the city or town limit to get the route sanctioned as an ordinary mofussil service. In order to substantiate his contention, the petitioner relies on Exts.P4 and P5 reports submitted by the Motor Vehicle Inspector (MVI) wherein after enquiry, it was reported that the very same route was a city route. Furthermore, according to the petitioner, the procedure for grant of city permit is stringent and the said procedure has not been followed. It is pointed out that the 4th respondent approached this Court and had filed W.P.(C) No.2961 of 2020 complaining of non-issuance of permit pursuant to the decision of the RTA sanctioning permit to the said respondent and by Ext.P8 judgment, this Court had disposed of the writ petition directing the 2nd respondent to complete the formalities after hearing the petitioner herein, as he had got himself impleaded. According to the petitioner, no orders have been passed by the respondent as directed by this Court. Being aggrieved, the petitioner is before this Court seeking to quash Ext.P2 decision of the RTA granting regular permit to the 4th respondent on the route Edappally Railway Gate - Chathamma or in the alternative, to reconsider the grant of regular permit after considering the objection raised by the petitioner.3. The Secretary of the RTA, the 2nd respondent herein, has filed a counter-affidavit. It is stated that the RTA by its proceedings held on 18.9.2019 granted a regular permit in favour of the 4th respondent on the route Edappally Railway Gate - Chathamma in respect of a suitable stage carriage not older than 8 years and subject to settlement of timings and production of records. While granting the permit as aforesaid, the RTA took note of the report of the MVI which revealed that the route length beyond the city limit is above 5 km. According to the 2nd respondent, as per Rule 2 (ca) of the Kerala Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989, a city or town service has been defined to mean a service within the perimeter of a city or a municipal town, notified as city or town service, by the Government and both the terminals of which do not extend beyond 5 km from the city or town limit. In the case on hand, the route enquiry report reveals that terminals extend beyond 5 km. It is contended that in view of the above, the RTA had rightly issued the permit as ordinary mofussil service. It is further stated that due to serious objections, the RTA had again called for a report through another Motor Vehicles Inspector and his report also revealed that the route length in rural area is above 5 km. According to the respondent, there is no irregularity in issuing the permit and the assertions made in the writ petition are meritless.4. The 4th respondent has filed a counter-affidavit. It is stated that the petitioner has misinterpreted the statutory provisions and has approached this Court by raising frivolous contentions. It is pointed out that Ext.P3 report prepared in relation to the route sanctioned vide Ext.P2 proceedings clearly shows that the total route length is 19.5 km., out of which 13.9 km lies within the city limit and the remaining 5.6 km lies outside the perimeter of the city. It is stated that as a route in question extends beyond 5 km from the city or town limit, it would fall outside the ambit of clause (ca) of Rule 2 and the route cannot be designated as a city route. It is stated that the reliance placed by the petitioner on Exts.P4 and P5 reports is clearly erroneous as those reports relate to renewal of existing city/town service and comes under the purview of note attached to clause (ca) of Rule 2 which states that nothing contained in clause (ca) shall apply to permits already granted for operating city/town services and the renewals. It is stated as a route length exceeds beyond 5 km from the city/town limit, the route can only be designated as 'ordinary mofussil route' and the permit granted can only be an 'ordinary mofussil service' permit. It is further stated that Ext.P6 notification relied on by the petitioner can have no application in the instant case as it relates to limiting the number of stage carriages operating as city services on the city roads in the cities of Kozhikode and Kochi. Finally, it is stated that no interference is warranted and the contentions raised on facts cannot be adjudicated in a writ petition under Article 226 of the Constitution of India.5. I have heard Sri. I. Dinesh Menon, the learned counsel appearing for the petitioner, Sri. Mable Kurian, the learned Government Pleader, Sri. P.C.Chacko, the learned Standing counsel appearing for the 3rd respondent and Sri. P. Deepak, the learned counsel appearing for the 4th respondent.6. The grievance of the petitioner revolves around Ext.P2 decision of the R.T.A. as per which, a fresh regular stage carriage permit was granted to the 4th respondent to conduct service on the route Edapally Railway Gate - Chathamma as ordinary mofussil service subject to settlement of timings. I find from Ext.P3 report that the MVI has conducted an enquiry into the route in question and it has been reported that the total route length is 19.5 km out of which, 13.9 km lies within the city limit and the remaining 5.6 km lies outside the perimeter of the city. This is a factual finding of the MVI. It appears from the counter filed by the 4th respondent that based on objections, a second report was called for and it was found that the route length in the rural area is above 5 km.7. Rule 2(ca) of the Kerala Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989, reads as follows:(ca) "City or Town Service" means a service plying within the perimeter of a City or Municipal Town, notified as City or Town Service, by the Government, and both the terminals of which shall not extend beyond five kilometres from the city or town limit.Note.-- Nothing contained in this clause shall apply to the permits already granted for operating City or Town Services and their renewals;]8. As per clause (ca) of Rule 2, to be notified as a city or town service, the terminals of a service plying within the perimeter of a city or a municipal town, which has been notified a city or town service by the Government, shall not extend beyond 5 km from the city or to
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wn limit. In the case on hand, the report of the MVI shows that the service extends beyond 5 km from Parathichuvadu city limit.9. I am not impressed with the contention of the petitioner that while issuing Exts.P4 and P5 reports, the MVI has categorized the very same route as city/town services. It is apparent that those reports relates to renewal of existing city/town services and would fall within the teeth of note appended to Rule 2(ca) of the Kerala Motor Vehicles Rules which says that nothing contained in clause (ca) would apply to the permits already granted for operating city/town services and the renewals.Having considered all the relevant facts, I find no reason to interfere with Ext.P2 decision of the RTA on the grounds raised by the petitioner. This writ petition will stand dismissed.