State of Madhya Pradesh and Ors. Vs. Mahendra Gupta and Ors. - (Supreme Court) (08 Feb 2018)
All decisions of a multi-member body are expressed by opinion of majority of members present except where special majorities are provided in statute itself
In facts of present case, the writ Petitioners have permanent permit for two routes, one Gwalior to Bhander and second Gwalior to Datia. Respondent No. 3 has also the permanent permit for the route Gwalior to Jhansi. Respondent No. 3 preferred an application for modification of time Schedule for movement of his vehicle. The application of Respondent No. 3 came for hearing before the State Transport Authority. On the date of hearing both counsel for the applicant as well as counsel for the objectors were heard. The State Transport Authority allowed the modification and decided to change the time Schedule as prayed by the applicant in the public interest. The order was issued by the State Transport Authority.
Aggrieved by the order, Writ Petition was filed by the two Petitioners who were objectors before the State Transport Authority. In the writ petition various grounds were taken questioning the application filed by the applicant. One of the grounds taken before the learned Single Judge was that, although the State Transport Authority heard the matter on 16th October, 2014 consisted of Chairperson and two members, however, the order was delivered with the signatures of Chairperson and only one member, since one member, was transferred in the meanwhile, hence, the order dated 15th December, 2014 is illegal. The learned Single Judge accepted the contention of the writ Petitioners and allowed the writ petition by setting aside the order dated 15th December, 2014. The Division Bench dismissed the appeal filed by the State upholding the view of the learned Single Judge.
The statutory provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 as well as the Madhya Pradesh Motor Vehicles Rules, 1994 indicate that, the State Transport Authority is a multi-member body constituted by the State Government under Section 68(1). The State Transport Authority is a multi-member body which transacts business in meeting except in case of emergency. Meeting is to be convened at such time and at such place as the Chairman may appoint. Three days' notice is required to be given to the members and quorum of the meeting is the Chairman or the nominated Chairman and two other members, i.e., quorum is three.
In the present case, there is no dispute that, when the meeting was held on 16th October, 2014 quorum was complete since Chairperson and two members were present which fact is clearly noticed in the order dated 15th December, 2014. The three members who were present in the meeting heard the Applicant and objectors. But the order could be issued only on 15th December, 2014, by which one of the members had been transferred and was not available to sign the order.
The multi-member body transacts its business after debate, consultation and discussion. The view of multi-member body is expressed unanimously or by votes. For various kind of decisions by multi-member body special majorities are also provided for acceptance of the decision. Normally, all decisions of a multi-member body are expressed by opinion of majority of the members present except where the special majorities are provided in the statute itself.
Although Rules, 1994 do not expressly provide that, decision of the State Transport Authority shall be taken in accordance with the opinions of the majority but there being no special majority provided for decision to be taken in the meeting of the State Transport Authority, normal, Rule that decision by majority of the members present has to be followed. In the present case, when three members were present and quorum was complete, the decision taken by majority, i.e., opinion of two members shall form the valid decision of the State Transport Authority. Rule 65 Sub-section (2) of the Rules dealing with the conduct of business of Transport Authorities provides that, the State or Regional Transport Authority, as the case may be, may decide any matter of urgent nature without holding a meeting by the majority of votes of members by recorded in writing and send to the Secretary (hereinafter referred to as the procedure by circulation).
Thus, the concept of taking decision by majority of votes of the members is very much present in the scheme of the Rules. Although, where a decision is to be taken by the circulation by votes a special majority is provided in Rule 65(4) but present being not a case of decision by circulation, simple majority by members present was sufficient for making a binding decision by the State Transport Authority. The present is a case where decision by a multi-member body is to be taken in the meeting of the Committee as per the statutory Rules. There being no such majority provided for taking a decision, the decision by majority has to be accepted as the opinion of the State Transport Authority.
Decision dated 15th December, 2014 issued with the signatures of Chairperson and one member was a valid decision in spite of the fact that, one of the members who were present in the hearing when the meeting took place on 16th October, 2014 and had been transferred in the meanwhile did not sign the order. The decision of the State Transport Authority dated 15th December, 2014 was fully in accordance with the statutory scheme of the Rules, 1994 and both the learned Single Judge and Division Bench erred in holding the decision as invalid. The appeal is allowed and judgments of the High Court are set aside.
Tags : DECISION VALIDITY