Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 – Ss. 8 & 9 – Driving School – Grant of Learner’s Licence – Circular not to accept application from students with temporary address of driving school’s jurisdiction, till the staff pattern of the Sub Regional Transport Office is increased – Held, An applicant can apply to the office of the authority in whose jurisdiction, the school or establishment referred to in Sec.12 from where he intends to receive instruction in driving motor vehicle, is situated. Merely because the Transport Commissioner issued a circular/letter, interdicting the respective statutory authority from entertaining applications, cannot be the mandate to be observed by the authorities in view of the peremptory stipulations contained under Sec.8(1)(ii) of the Act.
SHAJI P. CHALY, J.
W.P.(C) No.15431 of 2016
Dated this the 19th day of August, 2016
BY ADV. SRI.K.MOHAMMED FAISAL NAHA
1. STATE OF KERALA, REP: BY CHIEF SECRETARY, GOVERNMENT SECRETARIAT, THIRUVANANTHAPURAM – 695 001.
2. TRANSPORT COMMISSIONER, TRANSPORT COMMISSIONERATE, VAZHUTHAKKALA, THIRUVANANTHAPURAM -4.
3. JOINT REGIONAL TRANSPORT OFFICER, THIRURANGADI SUB REGIONAL TRANSPORT OFFICE, MALAPPURAM DISTRICT – 676 304.
BY SENIOR GOVERNMENT PLEADER SRI.PAUL VARGHESE
This writ petition is filed by the petitioner seeking direction to the 3 rd respondent to conduct computerized learner’s test and all necessary test for obtaining learner’s licence by receiving applications of the applicants from petitioner’s driving school, and for other related reliefs. Material facts for the disposal of the writ petition are as follows:
2. Petitioner is conducting 3 Driving Schools within the limits of Thirurangadi Sub Regional Transport Office. Petitioner’s schools are having students from various parts of the district and also from neighbouring districts due to effective and good training. That apart, it is contended that, as per
Sec.8(1)(ii) and Sec.9(1)(ii) of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988
[hereinafter called ‘the Act’], the students of a driving school are entitled to apply for learner’s licence and also secure Driving Licence from RTO office having jurisdiction in the area where the school situates. According to the petitioner, students of petitioner’s driving schools are entitled to apply before Sub Regional Transport Office, Thirurangadi. When they applied for learner’s licence and remitted necessary fees, they were provided with opportunity to appear for the test. But however, when the students appeared for the computerized learner’s test on the dates specified, 3 rd respondent refused to conduct the test. The reason stated by the 3 rd respondent is that, 2 nd respondent has issued a circular not to accept application from students with temporary address of driving school’s jurisdiction, till the staff pattern of the Sub Regional Transport Office is increased. A notice to that effect was also published in the notice board. Therefore, even female students had to return due to the indifferent attitude of the 3 rd respondent, without any opportunity of participating in the test. It is in this background, this writ petition is filed seeking appropriate direction.
3. The 3 rd respondent has filed a counter affidavit disputing the contentions and statements made by the petitioner in the writ petition. Even though 3 rd respondent is able to comprehend with the point of law put forth by the petitioner that any person who undergoes learner’s test with the petitioner’s driving school is entitled to apply for licence with the office at Thirurangadi, due to shortage of staff, the applications are unable to be processed and difficult to carry on with the driving test. Therefore, it is contended that, till such time the staff pattern is improved, submission of application before the Thirurangadi Office and processing it has become impossible. It is also stated that, the test conducting facility available at present is also not to the expectation and the authority finds it difficult to cater to the needs of all the applicants for appearance for the test from the schools conducted by the petitioner. Moreover, reliance is placed on Ext.R3(b) circular/letter issued by the 2 nd respondent directing the Motor Vehicles authorities to process the applications for learner’s licence and licence as per the stipulations contained thereunder. Petitioner has filed a reply affidavit reiterating the stand adopted in the writ petition, and dispute the statements and reasons adopted for not entertaining the applications.
4. Heard learned counsel for the petitioner and learned Senior Government Pleader, and perused the documents and pleadings put forth by the respective parties.
5. The prime contention advanced by the petitioner is on the basis of Sections 8 and 9 of the Act. Sec.8(1) and clauses (i) and (ii) are extracted for convenient disposal of this writ petition:
8. Grant of learner’s licence
(1) Any person who is not disqualified under Section 4 for driving a motor vehicle and who is not for the time being disqualified for holding or obtaining a driving licence may, subject to the provisions of Section 7, apply to the licensing authority having jurisdiction in the area–
(i) in which he ordinarily resides or carries on business, or
(ii) in which the school or establishment referred to in Section 12 from where he intends to receive instruction in driving a motor vehicle is situate,
for the issue to him of a learner’s licence.”
6. On a reading of Sec.8(1)(ii), it is clear, an applicant can apply to the office of the authority in whose jurisdiction, the school or establishment referred to in Sec.12 from where he intends to receive instruction in driving motor vehicle, is situated. Therefore, going by the provisions of law, the contentions put forth by the petitioner are legally sustainable. Merely because the Transport Commissioner issued a circular/letter, interdicting the respective statutory authority from entertaining applications, cannot be the mandate to be observed by the authorities in view of the peremptory stipulations contained under Sec.8(1)(ii) of the Act.
8. It is well-settled, no authority is empowered to issue any circular to overturn any provisions of law. Going by the circular/letter issued by the Transport Commissioner, in which reliance is placed by the respective statutory authority, to decline test to the applicants from the schools of the petitioner shows, same is in absolute violation of Section 8 of the Act. The said circular read thus: