Directs State government to pay Rs. 10,000 costs to petitioner for delay in filing compliance affidavit

The Supreme Court has directed the Tamil Nadu government to fix new auto fares in the State within four weeks taking into account all the relevant factors.

A Bench of Justices R.M. Lodha and Ibrahim Kalifulla also slapped Rs. 10,000 costs on the State government for non compliance of its orders. It said this amount should be paid to the petitioner, S.V. Ramamurthy, on whose petition the directions were given.

In its order, the Bench said, “On December 3, 2012, it was directed by this court that the government of Tamil Nadu will consider fixing new fares of autorickshaws… and take a decision by the second week of January 2013. The matter was kept for January 28, 2013.”

The Bench pointed out that on January 28, Mr. Guru Krishna Kumar [the then Additional Advocate General], who appeared for the State of Tamil Nadu, prayed for four weeks time which was granted. “Thereafter, the matter came up for consideration before this court on March 4. On that day, Mr. Guru Krishna Kumar submitted that grievances of the petitioner were being looked into by the government. He prayed for time and the matter was kept after eight weeks. Then, on May 6, again a request for adjournment was made by Mr. Guru Krishna Kumar. The prayer for adjournment made on behalf of the State of Tamil Nadu was objected to by the petitioner-in-person. However, in the interest of justice, we granted further time of two months to the government of Tamil Nadu to finally consider fixation of the new fares of autorickshaws.”

The Bench said, “In that order it was indicated that the Chief Secretary shall file an affidavit that the order dated December 3, 2012 has been complied with.” During the resumed hearing last week, adjournment was again sought by L.N. Rao, senior counsel for the government of Tamil Nadu. He submitted that much progress had been made in the matter, but some more time was required for fixing the new fares of autorickshaws.

“The matter has been adjourned thrice by this court at the request of the government of Tamil Nadu. As a matter of fact, on May 6, this court was assured that by July 22 the order dated December 3, 2012 for fixation of the new fares of autorickshaws would be complied with. However, that seems to have not been done so far. Be that as it may, in the interest of justice, we do grant one more opportunity to the government of Tamil Nadu to comply with the order dated December 3, 2012 and issue appropriate orders for fixation of the new fares of autorickshaws within four weeks.”

The Bench said, “However, further opportunity is granted subject to payment of cost of Rs. 10,000 by the government of Tamil Nadu to the petitioner within two weeks. Affidavit of compliance shall be filed by the Chief Secretary, Tamil Nadu, within four weeks. List the matter on August 26.”