GUWAHATI: The Justice Manish Choudhury bench of the Gauhati Court suspended the ‘operation of the notice dated December 28, 2023, till the returnable date (March 1, 2024).
The notice issued by the District Transport Officer and Secretary, Regional Transport Authority (RTA), withdrew 200 city buses having valid permits with effect from January 1, 2024, following the introduction of a fleet of e-buses in Guwahati routes as a move to ease the adverse effects of pollution, besides reducing traffic congestion.
The Metropolitan Transport Association of Guwahati moved the High Court with a writ petition (550/2024). The counsel of the petitioner submitted that the representatives of the petitioner association attended the meeting of the Regional Transport Authority [RTA] on December 13, 2023, and raised many issues, including three issues reflected in the proceedings of the RTA meeting. But the action taken by the impugned notice dated December 28, 2023, was not on the agenda of the said meeting. To assail the manner in which the 200 city buses, owned by the members of the petitioner association, have been stopped from operating on the specified routes indicated in the respective permits, the counsel has referred to the provisions of Section 68, Section 66, Section 72 and 86 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, apart from other provisions contained therein. It is his submission that stopping 200 city buses from operating on the specified routes mentioned in the respective permits issued under Section 66, amounts to the suspension of those permits, whereas the validity periods of those permits are much beyond January 1, 2024. Referring specifically to the provisions contained in Section 86 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, he has contended that no permit can be suspended without providing any prior opportunity to the holder of the permit to furnish his explanation.
“Having found that before taking action by the impugned notice dated December 28, 2023, which amounts to suspension of the permits, no prior opportunities had been provided to the stage carriage permit holders of those 200 buses, prima facie the same amounts to violation of the principles of natural justice. In such a view of the matter, this Court is of the view that the petitioner has made out a case for interim relief in the form of suspension of the notice dated December 28, 2023. Accordingly, it is ordered that till the returnable date, the operation of the notice dated December 28, 2023, whereby 200 city buses having valid permits have been withdrawn with effect from January 1, 2024, shall remain suspended. As a corollary, it is further observed that this interim order shall be in respect of those stage carriage permits that have a validity period beyond February 7, 2024. It is, however, observed that the pendency of the writ petition shall not be a bar for the state respondents to consider the modification of the permits of those 200 buses after hearing from the permit holders, strictly in accordance with the provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, and the rules framed thereunder,” the Court ordered.