Individuals who want to use their lands as private vehicle stands for cycles and other two-wheelers must obtain a licence from the local body concerned under the Tamil Nadu District Municipalities Act, 1920, the Madras High Court Bench here has held. Justice K. Chandru passed the ruling while dismissing a batch of writ petitions filed by those managing private vehicle stands at Virudhunagar, Srivilliputtur and Rajapalayam Municipalities. The petitioners included the Pennington Committee, a 130-year-old registered society based in Srivilliputtur.

According to them, Section 270E of the Municipalities Act insists on obtaining licence only for a ‘cart stand' and not for a bicycle or other two-wheeler stand.

They also claimed that they were running the stands for many years and hence they could not be prevented all of a sudden without any justification. They termed the municipalities' insistence on obtaining licences as a violation of their right to carry on any trade or business under Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution.

Rejecting all their contentions, the judge pointed out that an explanation appended to Section 270B (provision of public cart stands) stated that a cart-stand would, for the purposes of the Act, include stand for carriages including motor vehicles within the meaning of Indian Motor Vehicles Act and animals. Further Section 3 (5) of the Act defined ‘carriage' as any wheeled vehicle with spring or other appliances acting as springs and “includes any kind of bicycle, tricycle, rickshaw and palanquin, but does not include any motor vehicle within the meaning of the India Motor Vehicles Act, 1914.”

Section 3 (6) defined the term ‘cart' as “any wheeled vehicle which is not a carriage but does not include any motor vehicle within the meaning of the India Motor Vehicles Act, 1914.” A combined reading of the provisions would prove that bicycle stands could not be run without obtaining a licence. “Therefore, the right of a private cart stand operator depends upon the decision of a municipality and no fundamental right to carry on trade can be pleaded by private operators. No person was authorised to run a private vehicle stand without the permission of the municipal council,” the judge added.