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HC respite for city buses and shared taxis

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  19 March 2016 12:00 AM GMT

By our Staff Reporter

GUWAHATI, March 18: A division bench of the Gauhati High Court comprising Justice Ujjal Bhuyan and Rumi Kumari Phukan today (in W.A. Nos. 21/2016 & 25/2016) stayed the judgment delivered on November 26, 2015 by the single-judge bench {passed in W.P.(C) Nos. 206/2014 (All Assam Motor Transport Association –Vs- The State Of Assam) & 1678/2014 (All Guwahati Share Taxi Owner’s Association & Greater Guwahati Share Taxi Owner Association –vs- The State of Assam)}.

The single-judge of the Court had earlier observed that the State Government has the power under Section 72 (2) & 74 (2) of the Motor Vehicle Act, 1988 to issue permit of a specified description with certain conditions attached thereto which may include fixing the operable age of a transport vehicle. The single judge had restricted operation of city buses and school buses which are 15 years old and share taxis of 10 years old in Guwahati after March 31, 2016.

“The Regiol Transport Authority (RTA) and DC of Kamrup (Metro), along with three other persons (Collector GMC, SP City Traffic & DTO) at their meeting on December 7, 2013 initiated a discussion on the physical conditions of school buses, city buses and share taxis. At the meeting it was decided that no vehicle over 15 years old shall be permitted to operate as school buses or city buses. In case of share taxis which have attained an age of 10 years it will be required to be replaced by other LMV. Consequential notification was issued on March 4, 2014 by the Principal Secretary Transport Department directing all RTAs to impose the condition as resolved by RTA Kamrup (Metro) in their respective jurisdictions,” the High Court observed.

Senior counsel Bhaskar Dev Konwar drew the attention of the Court that there were no materials placed before the RTA to justify for taking such a drastic action of stching away the livelihood of around ten thousand people who are involved directly or indirectly with it. The affected parties, advocate Konwar said, were also not heard by the authority before taking such a decision. “Even the notification dated March 4, 2014 is an executive instruction and has not been issued in the me of the Governor, therefore it cannot be termed as a policy decision of the Government under Article 166 of the Constitution. Further there is no Cabinet approval of the State to the Executive Instruction. Assuming the State Government has the power to issue such notification it cannot be arbitrary, or unreasoble and therefore can be reviewed judicially,” the counsel advocated.

The Central Government has gone on record that till a replacement policy of the Government in regard to old commercial vehicle of 15 years old comes into existence, there will be no ban on plying of such vehicle.

The Division Bench had fixed the matter for fil hearing of the appeal in the last week of April 2016 and till then in the interim stayed the impugned judgment restricting plying of the aforementioned vehicles beyond March 31, 2016.

Senior advocate Bhaskar Dev Konwar appeared for the appellant and senior advocate Debojit Saikia appeared for the RTA.

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