Hyderabad: The Telangana High Court on Friday directed the state government to place before it the documents of the Cabinet decision based on which the government decided to privatise 5,100 route permits of the TSRTC, on November 11.
The court also directed the state government not to take further steps based on the decision till the further hearing of the PIL.
The division bench comprising Chief Justice Raghavendra Singh Chauhan and Justice A. Abhishek Reddy was dealing with a public interest petition filed by Prof. P.L. Vishweshwar Rao, challenging the Cabinet decision taken on November 2 to privatise the routes.
Mr Chikkudu Prabha-kar, counsel for the petitioner, submitted that despite the turmoil caused by the ongoing strike of TSRTC employees, the Cabinet had taken a decision to privatise 5,100 permits out of the 10,400 permits, which is aggravating the ongoing severe situation in the state.
He submitted that document of the Cabinet decision was not available with him and the only source of information were newspaper reports.
Advocate General B.S. Prasad placed the government’s response on the PIL by way of an affidavit and requested an adjournment. The court agreed to adjourn the hearing but issued interim directions to the government not to take further steps.
To that, Mr Prasad objected and said the PIL was not maintainable. He said a citizen cannot challenge the decision of the Cabinet, and that this view is supported by a Supreme Court judgment.
Reacting to the AG’s contentions, the bench said that a PIL is an individual attempt to bring a problem to the notice of the court and ask it to decide whether it is correct or not.
When Justice Chauhan asked Mr Prasad to furnish the Cabinet decision, the AG stated that it was a privileged document and he was not in possession of it.
Responding, the bench said that until and unless the court peruses the document it cannot decide whether the decision taken by the Cabinet was legal or not. Justice Chauhan said, “The court does have immense power to see even classified documents.”
Mr Prasad said that if the court gives directions to produce the Cabinet decision, he would inform the government. Accordingly, the Chief Justice dictated a brief order directing the Chief Secretary to produce the Cabinet decision to the court by November 11. It directed the government not to take further steps on that decision.
In the order, the bench said, “amidst this crisis, the Cabinet has taken a decision which has further agitated not only the minds of the trade unions but also the minds of the people at large. Therefore, to prevent any further deterioration of the situation, this court directs the Telangana state government not to take any such steps which would further precipitate the situation till the next date.”...