w w w . L a w y e r S e r v i c e s . i n



Sijo Joseph v/s The Transport Commissioner, Vazhuthacaud, Thiruvananthapuram & Others


Company & Directors' Information:- JOSEPH AND CO PVT LTD [Active] CIN = U01211KL1954PTC000507

Company & Directors' Information:- E R JOSEPH & CO PVT LTD [Strike Off] CIN = U28920WB1955PTC022404

    WP(C). No. 19977 of 2019 (V)

    Decided On, 30 July 2019

    At, High Court of Kerala

    By, THE HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE ANIL K. NARENDRAN

    For the Petitioner: K. Anand, M.R. Nandakumar, T.M. Muhamed Hafees, Roslinda Jackson, K.L. Angel Mary, Pramitha Augustine, Advocates. For the Respondents: K.P. Harish, Sr. Government Pleader.



Judgment Text

1. The petitioner, who is the holder of a driving licence bearing No.40/1552/2007, has filed this writ petition under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, seeking a writ of certiorari to quash Ext.P4 order dated 03.07.2019 of the 4th respondent Joint Regional Transport Authority, who is the Licensing Authority; and for a declaration that Ext.P5 Circular No.21/2008 dated 02.08.2008 of the 1st respondent Transport Commissioner as to the action to be taken against overspeeding of drivers and other offences and imposition of punishment, etc. is illegal and contrary to the statutory provisions and void ab initio. The petitioner has also sought for a declaration that he can drive vehicle on the strength of licence No.40/1552/2007.

2. On 22.07.2019, when this writ petition came up for admission, the learned Government Pleader sought time to get instructions.

3. On 25.07.2019, the learned Government Pleader submitted that, a statement of the 5th respondent shall be placed on record. On 29.07.2019, the 5th respondent has filed a counter affidavit, opposing the reliefs sought for in this writ petition.

4. Heard the learned counsel for the petitioner and also the learned Government Pleader appearing for the respondents.

5. The main issue that arises for consideration in this writ petition is as to whether Ext.P4 order passed by the 4th respondent, in exercise of his powers under sub-section (1) of Section 19 of the Motor Vehicles Act 1988, can be sustained in law.

6. The pleadings and materials on record would show that, on 17.05.2019, an accident occurred while the petitioner was driving a motor car bearing registration No.KL-07/BV- 2345. While the petitioner was taking the vehicle from the parking area of an apartment by name 'Providence Grove', the right side back wheel of the vehicle hit the left leg of one Daya Lakshmi K.R., who sustained fracture. In connection with that motor accident, Crime No.1136 of 2019 of Central Police Station, Kochi is registered against the petitioner, alleging commission of offences punishable under Section 279 [rash driving on a public way] and Section 338 [causing grievous hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others] of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. Ext.P1 is the FIR in Crime No.1136 of 2019.

7. The petitioner was issued with Ext.P2 show-cause notice dated 29.06.2019 issued under sub-section (1) of Section 19 of the Motor Vehicles Act, read with Rule 21 of the Central Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989. The petitioner submitted Ext.P3 reply dated 03.07.2019. Thereafter, the 4th respondent passed Ext.P4 order dated 03.07.2019, whereby, in exercise of the powers under sub-section (1) of Section 19 of the Motor Vehicles Act, read with Rule 21 of the Central Motor Vehicles Rules, the 4th respondent Licensing Authority suspended the driving licence of the petitioner for a period of one month, i.e, from 03.07.2019 to 02.08.2019. In Ext.P4 order, the 4th respondent has also referred to Ext.P5 circular, i.e., Circular No.21/2008 issued by the 1st respondent Transport Commissioner. Ext.P4 order of the 4th respondent reads thus:

“MALAYALAM”

8. The power of the Licensing Authority to suspend the driving licence of a person, invoking the provisions under sub-section (1) of Section 19 of the Act, came up for consideration before this Court in Santu Thomas v. Joint Regional Transport Officer [2018 (1) KHC 437], wherein this Court held that satisfaction of the Licensing Authority, after giving the holder of such licence an opportunity of being heard, of the existence of any of the circumstances made mention in clauses (a) to (h) of sub-section (1) of Section 19 of the Motor Vehicles Act is a pre-requisite to disqualify a person from holding a driving licence or to revoke such licence under sub-section (1). Further, the Licensing Authority has to record the reasons in writing for disqualifying a person for a specified period for holding or obtaining any driving licence to drive all or any classes or descriptions of vehicles specified in the licence, or for revoking any such licence. This Court held further that, though an appeal under sub-section (3) of Section 19 of the Motor Vehicles Act is provided against an order of the Licensing Authority under sub-section (1) of Section 19, an order issued by the Licensing Authority on a printed/ cyclostyled proforma with some insertions here and there, by filling the blanks, virtually makes the appellate jurisdiction nugatory and ineffective inasmuch as, such an order passed in a mechanical exercise of power will be of little assistance to the Appellate Authority, while analysing the reasoning essential to such a decision. Paragraphs 8 to 12 of the said judgment read thus:

8. The provisions under sub-section (1) of Section 19 of the Act makes it explicitly clear that, for disqualifying a person for a specified period for holding or obtaining any driving licence to drive all or any classes or descriptions of vehicles specified in the licence, or for revoking any such licence, the satisfaction of the licensing authority, after giving the holder of such licencee an opportunity of being heard, of the existence of any of the circumstances made mention in clauses (a) to (h) of sub-section (1) is a pre-requisite. Further, the licensing authority has to record the reasons in writing for disqualifying a person for a specified period for holding or obtaining any driving licence to drive all or any classes or descriptions of vehicles specified in the licence, or for revoking any such licence.

9. In the instant case, Ext.P3 proceedings of the respondent dated 27.10.2017 is on a printed/cyclostyled proforma with some insertions here or there and by filling the blanks, whereby the petitioner is disqualified under sub-section (1) of Section 19 of the Act from holding driving licence bearing No.40/2480/2005 for a period of one year, from 27.10.2017 to 26.10.2018. Ext.P3 proceedings, shows a mechanical exercise of power by the licensing authority and as such, the same is vitiated by total non-application of mind. The mandatory pre-requisites for an order under sub-section (1) of Section 19 of the Act, consistent with the principles of natural justice, are missing in Ext.P3.

10. In Woolcombers of India Ltd. v. Woolcombers Workers Union, [(1974) 3 SCC 318] the Apex Court, while considering the challenge made against an award under Section 11 of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 held that the giving of reasons in support of their conclusions by judicial and quasi judicial authorities when exercising initial jurisdiction is essential for various reasons. First, it is calculated to prevent unconscious unfairness or arbitrariness in reaching the conclusions. The very search for reasons will put the authority on the alert and minimise the chances of unconscious infiltration of personal bias or unfitness in the conclusion. The authority will adduce reasons which will be regarded as fair and legitimate by a reasonable man and will discard irrelevant or extraneous considerations. Second, it is a well known principle that justice should not only be done but should also appear to be done. Unreasoned conclusions may be just but they may not appear to be just to those who read them. Reasoned conclusions, on the other hand, will have also the appearance of justice. Third, it should be remembered that an appeal generally lies from the decisions of judicial and quasi judicial authorities to the Apex Court by special leave granted under Article 136. A judgment which does not disclose the reasons, will be of little assistance to the Court. The Court will have to wade through the entire record and find for itself whether the decision in appeal is right or wrong. Therefore, the Apex Court emphasised that judicial and quasi judicial authorities should always give the reasons in support of their conclusions.

11. In Assistant Commissioner, Commercial Tax Department v. Shukla and Brothers, [(2010) 4 SCC 785] the Apex Court held that, the principle of natural justice has twin ingredients; firstly, the person who is likely to be adversely affected by the action of the authorities should be given notice to show cause thereof and granted an opportunity of hearing and secondly, the orders so passed by the authorities should give reason for arriving at any conclusion showing proper application of mind. Violation of either of them could, in the given facts and circumstances of the case, vitiate the order itself. Such rule being applicable to the administrative authorities certainly requires that the judgment of the Court should meet with this requirement with higher degree of satisfaction.

12. Though an appeal is provided under sub-section (3) of Section 19 of the Act before the appellate authority, Ext.P3 proceedings of the licensing authority, which is under challenge in this Writ Petition, virtually makes the appellate jurisdiction nugatory and ineffective, inasmuch as, such an order passed in a mechanical exercise of power will be of little assistance to the appellate authority while analysing the reasoning essential to such a decision. Therefore, no purpose will be served by relegating the petitioner to avail the statutory remedy provided under sub-section (3) of Section 19 of the Act against an order issued by the licensing authority under sub-section (1) of Section 19 of the Act on a printed/cyclostyled performa with some insertions here or there and by filling the blanks.”

(underline supplied)

9. In Saji K.M. v. Deputy Transport Commissioner, Thrissur and others [2019 (3) KHC 836] this Court reiterated the law laid down in Santu Thomas Case (supra) and directed the Registry to forward a copy of that judgment to the Transport Commissioner to take necessary steps to ensure that satisfaction of the Licensing Authority of the existence of any of the circumstances made mention in clauses (a) to (h) of sub-section (1) Section 19 of the Motor Vehicles Act, which is a pre-requisite to disqualify a person from holding a driving licence or to revoke such a driving licence is reflected in the orders passed by the Licensing Authorities in the State in exercise of the powers under subsection (1) of Section 19 of the said Act.

10. Viewed in the light of the law laid down in the decisions referred to supra, conclusion is irresistible that Ext.P4 order dated 03.07.2019 of the 4th respondent Licensing Authority, whereby the driving licence of the petitioner stands suspended for a period of one month, is one issued in violation of the principles of natural justice, without recording the satisfaction of the Licensing Authority of the existence of any of the circumstances made mention in clauses (a) to (h) of sub-section (1) of Section 19 of the Motor Vehicles Act, which is a pre-requisite to disqualify a person from holding a driving licence or to revoke such licence under sub-section (1) of Section 19 of the said Act, as held by this Court in Santu Thomas Case (supra) and reiterated in Saji's case (supra).

11. The petitioner would contend that unless and until the holder of a driving licence is convicted for an offence in connection with a motor accident, no proceedings under subsection (1) of Section 19 of the Motor Vehicles Act can be initiated against him. The petitioner would also contend that Ext.P5 Circular No.21/2018 dated 02.08.2008 issued by the 1st respondent Transport Commissioner, which permits initiation of proceedings against 'charge-sheeted' drivers, is contrary to the provisions under sub-section (1) of Section 19 of the Act and as such, legally unsustainable.

12. Clause (c) of sub-section (1) of Section 19 of the Motor Vehicles Act provides that, if the Licensing Authority is satisfied, after giving the holder of a driving licence an opportunity of being heard, that he is using or has used a motor vehicle in the commission of a cognizable offence it may for reasons to be recorded in writing, make an order disqualifying that person for a specified period for holding or obtaining any driving licence to drive all or any classes or descriptions of vehicles specified in the licence; or revoke any such licence. Under clause (f) of sub-section (1) of Section 19, the Licensing Authority may make such an order if it is satisfied, after giving the holder of a driving licence an opportunity of being heard, that he has committed any such act, which is likely to cause nuisance or danger to the public, as may be prescribed by the Central Government, having regard to the objects of the said Act. Rule 21 of the Central Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989 deals with powers of Licensing Authority to disqualify. As per Rule 21, for the purpose of clause (j) of sub-section (1) of Section 19 of the Motor Vehicles Act, the commission of the acts enumerated in clauses (1) to (25) thereof by the holder of a driving licence shall constitute nuisance or danger to the public.

13. The words 'is using or has used a motor vehicle in the commission of a cognizable offence' in clause (c) of subsection (1) of Section 19 of the Motor Vehicles Act and the words 'has committed any such act, which is likely to cause nuisance or danger to the public' in clause (f) of sub-section (1) of Section 19, only mean the involvement of the holder of a driving licence in the commission of a cognizable offence using a motor vehicle or any act which is likely to cause nuisance or danger to the public. A finding of the competent Court that the holder of a driving licence is guilty of an offence is not necessary for the Licensing Authority to pass an order disqualifying that person for a specified period for holding or obtaining any driving licence to drive all or any classes or descriptions of vehicles specified in the licence; or revoke any such licence, invoking its powers under sub-section (1) of Section 19 of the Motor Vehicles Act.

14. Ext.P5 Circular No.21/2018 dated 02.08.2008 of the Transport Commissioner contains instructions to initiate proceedings under the provisions of sub-section (1) of Section 19 of the Motor Vehicles Act, considering the nature of offence, against the drivers of motor vehicles who have committed offences punishable under various provisions of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 and the Motor Vehicles Act. As per Ext.P5 circular, when the driver of a motor vehicle has been charge-sheeted for an offence punishable under Section 279, 337, 338, 304A of the Indian Penal Code, with or without Section 184 of the Motor Vehicles Act, proceedings to disqualify him from holding driving licence for a minimum period of one year has to be initiated. By the said circular, all officers in the Motor Vehicles Department are instructed to initiate action in accordance with the provisions of the law, to discourage wrong driving practices and to enhance road safety.

15. In V. Rajendran v. Regional Transport Officer, Thanjavur [2011 SCC OnLine Mad 1397] a learned Judge of the Madras High Court (Madurai Bench) held that Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 is a comprehensive Code, containing all features which covers grant of permits, usage of the vehicles, description of the vehicles, different kinds of licenses required for different clauses of licence, transfer of ownership, etc., and it empowers the Licensing Authorities to disqualify, suspend or revoke the licenses, depending upon the factors enumerated in the Sections. Restrictions to operate the vehicles are measures, temporarily or permanently, to curtail the rights of the licensees, considering the safety of the road users, including general public. Public interest is the predominant consideration while taking appropriate action by the Licensing Authority or the Court, as the case may be.

16. In V. Rajendran's case, one of the contentions raised was that, though Section 19 of the Motor Vehicle Act empowers the Licensing Authority to disqualify the holder of a licence, after providing an opportunity of personal hearing, the licence can be suspended only after final determination of the offence. The learned Single Judge noticed that the expression used in clause (c) of Sub-section (1) of Section 19 'is using or has used a motor vehicle in the commission of a cognizable offence'. The Section does not state that the licensee should be convicted or any finding has to be recorded as to his guilt in the commission of any cognizable offence. Therefore, the interpretation sought to be made to the provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act that, only after arriving at a finding, the Licensing Authority can suspend or disqualify to drive the vehicle or revoke the licence, for a specified period, would be an infringement to the statutory provision, which can be exercised even during the pendency of a criminal case registered, when the holder of the licence is using or has used the vehicle in the commission of a cognizable offence. If the interpretation of the petitioner has to be accepted, then the Licensing Authority has to remain as a mute spectator to all the illegal acts of the licensee, even if the vehicle is continuously used in the commission of any offenses, till the criminal court records a finding. That would run contrary to Section 19 of the Motor Vehicles Act.

17. In V. Rajendran's case it was held that, while interpreting the provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act, the principle of harmonious construction has to be applied to give effect to both the provisions under Sections 19 and 21 of the Act. Under clause (c) of sub-section (1) of Section 19 of the Act the words 'using or has used in the commission of a cognizable offence' are used whereas, in Section 21, the word 'convicted' is used. Section 22 deals with suspension or cancellation of driving licence on conviction. A bare reading of Sections 19 to 22 of the Act, makes it clear that both the Licensing Authorities as well as a Court of competent jurisdiction, which try a person for an offence under the penal laws and/or under the Motor Vehicles Act are empowered to disqualify a person from holding a driving licence or suspend or revoke the same, as the case may be. The power to disqualify a holder of a licence after arriving at the conclusion of guilty of the offence is entirely different than the power conferred on the Licensing Authority when the holder of licence is using or has used the vehicle in the commission of a cognizable offence. Reading of Section 19 of the Motor Vehicles Act makes it clear that if a Licensing Authority is satisfied, after giving the holder of a driving license an opportunity of being heard, that he, 'by using or has used a motor vehicle in the commission of cognizable offence', such authority can disqualify the holder of licence, for a specified period, for holding or obtaining any driving licence to drive all or any classes or descriptions of vehicles specified in the licence or he can even revoke the licence. Legislature has also clearly demarcated the powers of the Courts and the Licensing Authorities, as to when the licence can be suspended or revoked, when there is commission of a cognizable offence or for conviction of an offence. Sections 19 and 21 deal with the powers of the Licensing Authority. Sections 20 and 22 deal with the powers of the Court. The circumstances under which the holder of the licence can be disqualified for a specified period in sub-section (1) of Section 19 are different from the one in Section 21. Both operate under different spheres. Sub-section (1) of Section 19 speaks of commission of cognizable offence in contra to Section 21, which speaks about previous conviction under Section 184 of the Motor Vehicles Act. The usage of the words, 'commission of a cognizable offence' and 'conviction', in two different Sections in the enactment and the power to suspend or disqualify, as the case may be, for specific and definite reasons set out in the Sections, have to be given their plain and literal meaning. To say that only after conviction or arriving at the conclusion, a licence can be suspended or licensee can be temporarily disqualified would render Section 19 of the Motor Vehicle Act, as redundant. The words 'used' or 'using' the motor vehicle in the commission of a cognizable offence, are not unambiguous and that the Licensing Authority is empowered to disqualify the holder of driving licence or revoke the driving license, after providing an opportunity of being heard, and it is not necessary that only after recording a finding that the holder of a licence is guilty of an offence, under the provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act, suspension or disqualification can be made. [Note: W.A.(MD)Nos.1073 of 2011 and 1177 of 2011 filed against the judgment in V. Rajendran's case were dismissed as infructuous on 06.12.2013.]

18. In Peethambaran T.R. v. Additional Licensing Authority and another [2012 (3) KHC 917] a learned Judge of this Court held that, wherever the Licensing Authority is satisfied that the holder of driving licence has used a motor vehicle in the commission of a cognizable offence, he is entitled to proceed against the said person under Section 19 of the Motor Vehicles Act. It cannot, therefore, be said that initiation of action under the said provision is unwarranted or uncalled for. In the said decision, this Court has also relied on the decision of the Madras High Court (Madurai Bench) in V. Rajendran's case (supra).

19. In Peethambaran's case (supra) one of the contentions raised by the petitioner therein was that he is already facing criminal prosecution for various offences alleged against him and when the criminal court is also empowered to suspend or cancel the licence under Sections 20 and 22 of the Motor Vehicles Act, the proceedings under Section 19 is unwarranted. Repelling the said contention this Court held that the power of the Licensing Authority and that of the Court, operates in different spheres. The suspension of licence under Section 19 is not dependent upon a conviction of the offender. The same can be invoked immediately upon the commission of the offence where the Licensing Authority is satisfied of the existence of the other conditions stipulated by the provisions. For the above reasons, the impugned action would not constitute double jeopardy as contended. Paragraph 11 of the said decision reads thus;

“11. The next contention of the learned counsel for the petitioner is that the petitioner is already facing criminal prosecution for the various offences alleged against him by the Police. The Criminal Court is also empowered to suspend or cancel the petitioner's driving licence under Section 21 and Section 2 of the Act. The said power is to be exercised in appropriate cases by the Court, upon conviction of a person. Therefore, as held by the Madras High Court in V. Rajendran v. The Regional Transport Officer, Thanjavur (supra), the power of the licensing authority and that of the Court, operates in different spheres. The suspension of a licence under Section 19 is not dependent upon a conviction of the offender. The same can be invoked immediately upon commission of the offence where the licensing authority is satisfied of the existence of the other conditions stipulated by the provision. For the above reasons, the impugned action would not constitute double jeopardy as contended.”

(underline supplied)

20. In Peethambaran's case (supra) this Court held that the right to earn a livelihood by working as the driver of a transport vehicle is regulated by the provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act and the Rules made thereunder. The licence granted to the petitioner does not confer on him a right to drive his vehicle dangerously or carelessly or in such a way as to cause injury, damage or loss of life to another. Any such conduct on his part amounts to violation of the terms and conditions, subject to which he has been licensed to drive a motor vehicle. Therefore, for violation of the terms of the licence, the Licensing Authority is within its powers to suspend and if necessary, revoke the licence that has been granted. When such action is initiated, it is not open to the licensee to contend that such action has deprived him of his means of livelihood. In the said decision, this Court held further that, the device of licensing itself operates by prohibiting a particular act and then permitting the said act subject to the terms of a licence that is issued only to persons who are considered to be competent to be granted such licence. Therefore, in the case of driving also, there is a general prohibition in force, which is relaxed in the case of persons who are granted a licence, by permitting them to drive, provided they abide by the conditions of the licence. Since the Licensing Authority was satisfied that the petitioner therein has violated the terms of the licence, it is certainly within the powers of the said authority to suspend the licence.

21. In Ashish Gosain v. Department of Transport and another [AIR 2016 Delhi 162] a learned Judge of the Delhi High Court held that compounding of an offence under Section 200 of the Motor Vehicles Act does not, in any manner, affect the power of the Licensing Authority to suspend the licence under Section 19 of the Act. Since suspension of a licence under Section 19 is not dependent upon the compounding of the offence by the accused, suspension of the licence would not amount to double jeopardy. In the said decision, the Delhi High agreed with the finding of the Supreme Court Committee on Road Safety that unless strong and urgent measures are taken to deal with over speeding, drunken driving, red light jumping, use of mobile phones while driving, and overloading, the number of accidents and fatalities will continue to remain high. Therefore, it was held that the directions issued by the Supreme Court Committee on Road Safety for suspension of licence for a period of not less than three months under Section 19 of the Motor Vehicles Act, in cases of driving at excessive speed, overloading, drunken driving and using mobile phone while driving, warrant strict implementation by the Delhi Police as well as the Transport Department. Paragraphs 8.1, 8.2 and 8.6 of the said decision read thus;

“8.1. India has the dubious distinction of having highest number of road accidents. According to the Road Transport Ministry report of 2014, a total of 4,89,400 road accidents were reported in 2014 resulting in 1,39,671 deaths i.e. an average of one road accident every minute resulting in one death every 4 minutes which is highest in the world. This Court agrees with the Supreme Court Committee on Road Safety that unless strong and urgent measures are taken to deal with speeding, drunken driving, red light jumping, the use of mobile phones while driving, and overloading, the number of accidents and fatalities will continue to remain high.

8.2. The directions issued by the Supreme Court Committee on the Road Safety for suspension of licence for a period of not less than three months under Section 19 of the Motor Vehicles Act in cases of driving at excessive speed, overloading, drunken driving and using mobile phone while driving, warrant strict implementation by Delhi Police as well as Transport Department. However, the Delhi Police, as well as the Transport Department, have to follow due process of law which is as under:-

8.2.1. A valid show cause notice giving the particulars of the violation i.e. date, time and place, reference to relevant provisions violated and the directions of the Supreme Court Committee on the Road Safety.

8.2.2. An opportunity of hearing in terms of Section 19(1) of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988. 8.2.3. The suspension order containing reasons in terms of Section 19(1) of the Motor Vehicles Act.

xxx xxx xxx

8.6. There is no merit in the petitioner's plea that the suspension of a licence after the compounding of the offence would amount to double jeopardy. Section 19 can be invoked where the Licensing Authority is satisfied of the existence of conditions stipulated in Section 19(1) (a) to (h). The compounding of an offence under Section 200 of the Motor Vehicles Act does not, in any manner, affect the power of the licensing authority to suspend the licence under Section 19 of the Motor Vehicles Act. The suspension of a licence under Section 19 is not dependent upon the compounding of the offence by the accused. The suspension of the licence under Section 19(1) of the Motor Vehicles Act would not, therefore, amount to double jeopardy as contended by the petitioner.”

(underline supplied)

22. Therefore, a finding of the competent court that the holder of a driving licence is guilty of an offence is not necessary for the Licensing Authority to invoke its powers under sub-section (1) of Section 19 of the Motor Vehicles Act to disqualify that person for a specified period for holding or obtaining any driving licence to drive all or any classes or descriptions of vehicles specified in the licence; or revoke any such licence. Proceedings under sub-section (1) of Section 19 of the Act can be initiated against 'charge-sheeted' drivers. Therefore, Ext.P5 circular, which permits initiation of proceedings against 'charge-sheeted' drivers, is not contrary to the provisions under sub-section (1) of Section 19 of the Act. The contentions to the contra raised by the petitioner are repelled as untenable.

23. As per Rule 21 of the Central Motor Vehicles Rules, for the purpose of clause (j) of sub-section (1) of Section 19 of the Motor Vehicles Act, the commission of the acts enumerated in clauses (1) to (25) thereof, by the holder of a driving licence shall constitute nuisance or danger to the public. Rule 21 reads thus;

“21. Powers of licensing authority to disqualify.-

For the purpose of clause (j) of sub-section (1) of section 19, the commission of the following acts by holder of a driving licence shall constitute nuisance or danger to the public, namely:—

(1) Theft of motor vehicle.

(2) Assault on passengers.

(3) Theft of personal effects of passengers.

(4) Theft of goods carried in goods carriages.

(5) Transport of goods prohibited under any law.

(6) Driver, while driving a transport vehicle, engages himself in activity which is likely to disturb his concentration.

(7) Abduction of passengers.

(8) Carrying overload in goods carriages.

(9) Driving at speed exceeding the specified limit.

(10) Carrying persons in goods carriage, either inside the driver’s cabin in excess of its capacity or on the vehicle, whether for hire or not.

(11) Failing to comply with the provisions of Section 134.

(12) Failure to stop when signaled to do so by any person authorised to do so.

(13) Misbehaviour with and showing discourtesy to passengers, intending passengers or consignors and consignees of goods.

(14) Smoking while driving public service vehicles.

(15) Abandoning vehicle in a public place causing inconvenience to other road users or to passengers in the vehicle.

(16) Driving vehicle while under the influence of drink or drugs.

(17) Interfering with any person mounting or preparing to mount upon any other vehicle.

(18) Allowing any person to sit or placing things in such a way as to impede the driver from having a clear vision of the road or proper control of the vehicle.

(19) Not stopping a stage carriage at approved stopping places for a sufficient period of time in a safe and convenient position upon demand or signal of the conductor or any passenger desiring to alight from the vehicle and unless there is no room in the vehicle, upon demand or signal of any person desiring to becoming a passenger.

(20) Loitering or unduly delaying any journey and not proceeding to the destination as near as may be in accordance with the time table pertaining to the vehicle, or, where there is no such time table, with all reasonable despatch.

(21) Not driving a contract carriage, in the absence of a reasonable cause, to the destination named by the hirer by the shortest route.

(22) The driver of a motor cab not accepting the first offer of hire which may be made to him irrespective of the length of the journey for which such offer is made.

(23) The driver of a motor cab demanding or extracting any fare in excess to that to which he is legally entitled or refusing to ply motor cab.

(24) Abandoning a transport vehicle as a mark of protest or agitation of any kind or strike in a public place or in any other place in a manner causing obstructions and inconvenience to the public or passengers or other users of such places.

(25) Using mobile phone while driving a vehicle.”

24. In Ajith v. State of Kerala and others [2017 (1) KHC 328] a learned Judge of this Court held that, while clause (f) of sub-section (1) of Section 19 of the Motor Vehicles Act brings acts which are likely to cause danger to the public within the scope of that Section, Rule 21 of the Central Motor Vehicles Rules does not specify over speed as an act within the scope of clause (f) of sub-section (1) of Section 19 of the Act. It was pointed out by the learned Special Government Pleader that the case of the petitioner therein would come under clause (9) of Rule 21 of the Rules. Disagreeing with the said stand of the learned Special Government Pleader, this Court observed that, what is provided in the said clause is 'driving at speed exceeding the specified limit'. But, that does not mean that power under clause (f) of sub-section (1) of Section 19 cannot be invoked for over speeding. In as much as clause (f) of sub-section (1) of Section 19 of the Act confers power on the Licensing Authority to disqualify a person from holding licence or revoke the licence issued to him, if he commits an act which is likely to cause danger to the public, the specific acts defined in Rule 21 of the Central Motor Vehicles Rules can only be illustrative and not exhaustive, for, all acts which would cause nuisance or danger to the public cannot be contemplated and enumerated. There could be still graver acts of nuisance and danger and it cannot be conceived that the Statute contemplated disqualification from holding licence and revocation of licence only for the trivial acts of nuisance and danger. In other words, the power under sub-section (1) of Section 19 of the Act can be invoked even in a case where the act does not fall under any of the clauses in Rule 21 of the Central Motor Vehicles Rules, if the act committed by the person concerned would fall under clause (f) of sub-section (1) of Section 19 of the Act. In the said view of the matter, this Court held that the exercise of the power under clause (f) of sub-section (1) of Section 19 of the Act, in the case of the petitioner therein, on the ground of over speeding cannot be said to be without jurisdiction.

25. The Apex Court in W.P.(C)No.295 of 2012 filed under Article 32 of the Constitution of India, by a publicspirited citizen, seeking enforcement of road safety norms and appropriate treatment of accident victims, constituted a 'Committee on Road Safety', vide its order dated 22.04.2014 - S. Rajaseekaran v. Union of India [(2014) 6 SCC 36], and the said Committee was notified by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, Government of India, on 30.05.2014. In the said decision, after referring to the relevant provisions under the Motor Vehicles Act, which deals with licensing; vehicular fitness; etc. the Apex Court observed that, while improvements in different spheres of law are imminent with passage of time, any change of law has to be preceded by serious debate and consideration of a wide variety of factors all of which takes time. While such changes or amendments can be brought in only upon completion of the necessary exercise, the enforcement of the existing laws would stand on an entirely different footing. Strict and faithful enforcement of all existing laws and norms must be insisted upon not only as an absolute principle of law but also for the huge beneficial effects thereof. Though directions to the States to enforce the existing laws can be issued even in their absence, the Apex Court observed that the matter cannot be allowed to rest merely by issuance of directions. Observance and implementation of the directions to be issued by the Court in exercise of the power under Article 142 of the Constitution of India would require continuing scrutiny and therefore, the Apex Court decided to monitor such implementation and to make the States accountable for any inaction or lapse in this regard. The Apex Court impleaded all the States as party respondents and directed the Government of each State to effectively implement and enforce all the provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act in respect of which the States have the authority and obligation to so act under the Constitution, in addition to the tasks specifically alluded to in the subsequent paragraphs of that order dated 22.04.2014. By the said order, the Apex Court constituted a Committee having the composition, as enumerated in paragraphs 35, and the functions, as enumerated in paragraphs 36.4 to 36.8, to undertake the process of monitoring on behalf of the Court, the measures undertaken by the Central Government and the State Governments and the extent of affirmative action on part of the Union and the States, from time to time.

26. The Supreme Court Committee on Road Safety, vide letter No.05/2014/CoRS-Part-III dated 18.08.2015, directed the States/Union Territories to take action under Section 19 of the Motor Vehicles Act, read with Rule 21 of the Central Motor Vehicles Rules, by suspension of driving license for a period of not less than 3 months, for (i) driving at a speed exceeding the specified limit, which would also include red light jumping; (ii) carrying overload in goods carriages and carrying persons in goods carriages; (iii) driving vehicles under the influence of drink and drugs; and (iv) using mobile phone while driving a vehicle. The Committee directed further that, in the case of driving a vehicle under the influence of drinks or drugs, the police should prosecute the offender and seek imprisonment as prescribed under Section 185 of the Motor Vehicles Act, even for the first offence; and that, the helmet laws be made applicable all over the State/Union Territory both for main riders and the pillion riders. In a case where the law relating to the use of helmet is violated by either the main rider or the pillion rider, they should both be subject to Road Safety Education and Counselling for not less than two hours before imposition of fine as prescribed under the Motor Vehicles Act. The States/Union Territories were directed to submit Action Taken Reports at the end of three months starting from 01.09.2015.

27. As stated in letter No.05/2014/CoRS-Part-III dated 18.08.2015, the Supreme Court Committee on Road Safety had detailed discussions with the concerned Central Ministries and all the States/Union Territories on the trend of road accidents and fatalities. The data furnished by the States/Union Territories clearly established that the number of fatalities in India continues to be very high, causing serious emotional trauma and economic loss to the families of the deceased and the society. The compensation awarded to the victims by the Insurance Companies also runs into hundreds of crores of rupees every year. The Committee had issued directions to the States/Union Territories to establish institutional arrangements to promote road safety, undertake engineering measures to make roads safe, tighten enforcement together with promoting road safety education and establishing adequate trauma care facilities. The Committee, on the basis of detailed analysis of traffic accidents and fatalities, came to the conclusion that unless strong and urgent measures are taken to deal with over speeding, drunken driving, red light jumping, violation of helmet laws and seat belt laws, use of mobile phones while driving, and overloading, the number of accidents and fatalities will continue to remain high.

28. Pursuant to the directions contained in letter No.05/2014/CoRS-Part-III dated 18.08.2015 of the Supreme Court Committee on Road Safety, the Motor Vehicles Department in the

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State of Kerala launched a special drive 'Operation Suraksha' under the personal supervision of the Joint Transport Commissioner (Enforcement), with an objective to reduce the number of road accidents and to ensure the safety of the road users. The 1st respondent Transport Commissioner, vide letter No.C2/10571/TC/2014 dated 12.07.2017 directed all officers to comply with the Standard Operation Procedures regarding detection of the offenses and follow up action. All Regional Transport Officers are directed to sent weekly compliance reports to the office of the 1st respondent, without fail. A monthly data of 'licence suspension' shall be furnished in the proforma enclosed to the letter dated 12.07.2017. All Deputy Transport Commissioners shall ensure that the statements being furnished by the officers under their jurisdiction are accurate and shall furnish a quarterly consolidated statement. 29. In W.P.(C).No.295 of 2012, the Apex Court delivered a judgment dated 30.11.2017 - S. Rajaseekaran v. Union of India [(2018) 13 SCC 532]. In the said decision, the Apex Court observed that all States and Union Territories are expected to implement the Road Safety Policy with all due earnestness and seriousness. The responsibility and functions of the Road Safety Council constituted in terms of Section 215 of the Motor Vehicles Act will be as recommended by the Committee on Road Safety constituted as per the order dated 22.04.2014 and Road Safety Councils should periodically review the laws and take appropriate remedial steps whenever necessary. In paragraph 94.13 of the said decision, in the context of Lane Driving, the Apex Court held that the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has already issued the Motor Vehicles (Driving) Regulations, 2017, vide G.S.R.634 (E) dated 23.06.2017, which should be implemented by the State Governments and Union Territories strictly. Paragraphs 94.1 to 94.25 of the said decision contains various directions issued by the Apex Court. In paragraph 95, the Apex Court has made it clear that, if there is any doubt or clarity is required in implementing those directions, the State Government or Union Territory concerned is at liberty to move the Committee on Road Safety. 30. In view of the aforesaid directions issued by the Apex Court, the Road Safety Policy and also the provisions under the Motor Vehicles Act and the Motor Vehicles (Driving) Regulations, 2017 should be implemented in the State of Kerala with due earnestness and seriousness. As noticed by the Supreme Court Committee on Road Safety, unless strong and urgent measures are taken to deal with over speeding, drunken driving, red light jumping, violation of helmet laws and seat belt laws, use of mobile phones while driving, and overloading, the number of accidents and fatalities will continue to remain high. Therefore, it is for the 1st respondent Transport Commissioner to take necessary steps to ensure through the concerned enforcement officers in the Motor Vehicles Department that stern action, in exercise of the powers under sub-section (1) of Section 19 of the Motor Vehicles Act, read with Rule 21 of the Central Motor Vehicles Rules, is taken against the violators of law. 31. As already noticed, Ext.P4 order is not one issued in conformity with the law laid down by this Court in Santu Thomas Case and reiterated in Saji's case referred to supra. For the above reason, Ext.P4 order warrants interference of this Court under Article 226 of the Constitution of India. In the result, this writ petition is disposed of by setting aside Ext.P4 order dated 03.07.2019 of the 4th respondent, for the aforesaid reasons; however, without prejudice to the right of the said respondent to pass fresh order, in accordance with law, taking note of the law laid down by this Court in Santu Thomas's case and Saji's case referred to supra, with notice to the petitioner and after affording him an opportunity of being heard. Necessary orders in this regard shall be passed as expeditiously as possible, at any rate, within a period of one month from the date of receipt of a certified copy of this judgment. The 1st respondent Transport Commissioner shall take necessary steps to ensure through the concerned enforcement officers in the Motor Vehicles Department that stern action, in exercise of the powers under sub-section (1) of Section 19 of the Motor Vehicles Act, read with Rule 21 of the Central Motor Vehicles Rules, is taken against the violators of law.
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