Hyderabad: The Telangana High Court on Friday gave a going over to Sunil Sharma, in-charge managing director of the Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (TSRTC), for submitting an affidavit with vague, piece-meal, false and contradictory statements on the subject of the amounts due to the corporation from the state government and the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC).
Sharma was present before the court to give and explain facts and numbers relating to the RTC finance. The division bench comprising Chief Justice Raghavendra Singh Chauhan and Justice A. Abhishek Reddy, while dealing with a public interest litigation (PIL) related to the RTC strike, wondered about the authenticity and veracity of the affidavit, observing that the “affidavit seems to have been prepared with the purpose of making it vague enough to hide the truth, by resorting to half-truths.”
Sharma had placed an affidavit before the court related to dues to the RTC from the government and the GHMC, as directed by the Court, saying the state government had paid a reimbursement amount of Rs 644 crore towards student bus passes for 2018-19. The government had paid the corporation more than it was owed, Mr Sharma submitted.
With regards to the GHMC, he submitted that the GHMC does not owe the corporation for operation of buses in Hyderabad city, as there was no agreement between the two bodies for reimbursement of losses accruing to the RTC.
Responding to the affidavit, Chief Justice Chauhan made several observations against Mr. Sharma and K. Ramakrishna Rao, principal secretary, finance, who was not present in the court and other babus for filing vague, false reports and affidavits under oath before the High Court.
“Remember, you are not dealing with donkeys here. Don’t pretend, don’t underestimate the court and judges,” the bench commented.
“You are trying to pull wool over our eyes by placing fudged figures and incorrect statements,” CJ Chauhan observed.
Cautioning babus of the state, that they would have to face severe consequences for filing the false affidavits under oath, the Chief Justice said that higher officials do not know the consequences of filing a false affidavit.
“It is unwarranted from bureaucrats,” Chief Justice Chauhan said.
Sunil Sharma, in-charge MD, filed an affidavit on the directions of the court, when the division bench doubted the affidavit submitted by K. Ramakrishna Rao, principal secretary, finance department, in which it was claimed that the government had paid all reimbursement since 2014 to RTC, and an excess amount of Rs 622 crore was also provided as assistance. The workers’ unions had submitted that the government owed Rs 2,475 crore to the corporation and the GHMC owed Rs 1,492 crore towards bus pass concessions. The Bench directed Mr. Sharma to file an affidavit on 29 October to ascertain facts from the corporation.
The Bench came to conclusion that the affidavit placed by Mr Sharma was false, when it learnt that the state transport minister had confessed on the floor of the Assembly that the government and GHMC owed money to the RTC. D. Prakash Reddy, senior counsel, appearing for the unions informed the Bench that the minister for transport had in September made a statement in the Assembly based on information given to him by same official, Sharma. The counsel read out the transcript of the minister’s statement before the bench. The minister had said that several crore of rupees were due from government and GHMC to the RTC. If they clear the dues, the Corporation would not reel under a financial crisis.
Mr Reddy further submitted that the in-charge MD of RTC had submitted a representation to the minister that Rs 2,277 crore were due to the corporation up to December 2018 from various wings. He prayed the court to get the original copy of the minister's speech.
Reacting to the counsel’s arguments, Mr Sharma and Mr Prasad argued that the “representation and letters were given to the minister for internal circulation, and the figures were wrong.”
Chief Justice Chauhan became furious at their rationalisations, saying, “As in-charge MD of the RTC, it was you who fed information to the minister for making a statement on the floor of the House. In this Court, the same officer is giving us another set of other figures.”
The CJ observed that this was not a clerical mistake and there would be serious consequences for making a wrong statement under oath before the court. The Court also said that the government orders while releasing funds only mentioned loan amount released and not as reimbursement. It found fault with Mr Sharma’s conclusion that GHMC did not owe money to the corporation. The case was adjourned till November 7....