HC upholds RTC move on permit privatisation


State allowed 50% privatisation of road transport sector

The decision to privatise 5,100 permits of TSRTC taken by State Cabinet three weeks ago was upheld by the Telangana High Court on Friday, observing that State was invested with ample power to do so under the law.

Having heard a PIL plea challenging the Cabinet decision to privatise the permits consecutively for the past few days, a division bench comprising Chief Justice Raghvendra Singh Chauhan and Justice A. Abhishek Reddy disposed of it.

Pronouncing the judgment, the bench said the government has power to introduce the road transport sector to private players. “But it must strike a balance by giving priority to Road Transport Corporation. State would not be justified to alienate RTC,” the verdict said.

“At best, the State can open up to a maximum 50% of road transport to private sector and not beyond,” the CJ said delivering the judgment. One flaw the bench found with the Cabinet decision was that it had stated that State Transport Authority would be the agency to follow the procedures like publication of the decision of permit privatisation in Official Gazette and one regional language newspaper.

“The STA is a quasi-judicial body. Though Principal Secretary of Transport is its chairman, the body cannot be the agency to follow the procedure prescribed under section 102 of the Motor Vehicles Act,” the bench said. During arguments, Advocate General B.S. Prasasd said though the Cabinet decision mentioned about the STA as the agency, the government would ensure only the PS of Transport department would implement the procedures.

When the bench asked the AG to file an affidavit on that point, the latter requested that his statement of assuring to follow the procedure be recorded. While dictating the judgment, the bench said it cannot find fault with the Cabinet decision since the AG had given the undertaking that PS of Transport and none else would be in-charge of following the procedure of privatising permits.

The bench said the newly amended section 67 of the Motor Vehicles Act-1988 cannot be ignored. The changes made to section 67 were in the backdrop of globalisation and heightened expectations of passengers. As the capitalist economy has come to rule, competition was more welcome. The section gave regulatory powers to government to improve transport sector, the bench said.

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Printable version | Dec 8, 2019 3:43:53 PM |

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