ACCEPTS STATE GOVT’S CONTENTION THAT JUNE 30 DEADLINE FOR APPLICATION RECEIPT A MATTER OF ADMINISTRATIVE CONVENIENCE
Chandigarh, June 23
The Punjab & Haryana High Court on Tuesday rejected the plea of the existing private mini bus operators for a stay on receipt of applications by the Punjab Government for grant of new mini bus permits.
The existing operators had challenged the grant of new permits, as announced by Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh in line with his government’s commitment to check monopoly and undue profiteering in the transport business, and had sought a stay on receipt of applications for the same.
Refusing to stay the process of receipt of applications, the court accepted the state government’s contention that the June 30 deadline set for the purpose was a matter of administrative convenience, and that the process for grant of permits, which covered more than 1400 rural routes, was likely to take some time.
Defending the stand of the Government, Rameeza Hakeem, Additional Advocate General Punjab, contended that the petition by existing mini bus operators was nothing but a ruse to keep new operators out, cartelize rural transport, and maintain the monopoly of current bus operators, many of whom had been operating on routes for the past 25 years without any healthy competition.
It may be recalled that Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh had, during the Budget Session of the Legislative Assembly, announced the issuance of 5000 mini-bus permits, and the Transport Department had accordingly issued public notices inviting applications for grant of such permits. The process was initiated in early March 2020 through a public drive.
The Government’s move was challenged by the existing private mini bus operators on the ground that the proposed policy would lead to a wholesale and unchecked grant of mini bus permits by 30th June 2020, would congest the rural transport market and would upset the Transport Scheme of the State. The matter was heard by a Division Bench comprising Mr. Justices Ranjan Gupta and Karamjit Singh.
The matter has been listed for further hearing in August, after completion of pleadings by the new applicants.