Hyderabad: The Telangana High Court on Tuesday prima facie said that approaching the court by coming to the conclusion that the Cabinet had given permission to private bus operators in 5,100 routes would be premature.
The division bench comprising Chief Justice Raghavendra Singh Cha-uhan and Justice A. Abhishek Reddy was dealing with the PIL filed by former professor, P.L. Vish-weshwar Rao who urged the court to declare the Cabinet decision of Nove-mber 2, allegedly privatising 5,100 bus routes in the state, as arbitrary.
After going through the minutes of the Cabinet meeting, the bench said the documents revealed that the government was keen to initiate steps tow-ards privatisation but it did not mean that a decision had been taken to give permits to private operators
Asking the petitioner how the courts could sna-tch the legislature’s powers, the bench made several observations about the petitioner’s apprehensions that privatisation adversely affects the livelihood of workmen.
“We are moving away from a socialistic background in the private sector and the law permits us to do so. As per Section 67 of the Motor Vehicle Act, the state has ample power to bring the private stage carriage system and that power cannot be snatched by this court of law.”
“Otherwise, the court of law ends up modifying every piece of legislation passed by Parliament and this court is bound to abide by the amendments passed by Parliament in various laws,” Justice Chauhan said.
The bench made it clear that the decision of the Cabinet can be challenged only when the TSRTC is not consulted as prescribed in various sections of the Motor Vehicles Act, prior to allocating 5,100 RTC route permits to private operators.
Justice Chauhan took the example of the once-dominant Air India. “Now so many private airlines have invaded into the skies. Though some have exited, the others are ruling the skies. The decision taken by Parliament has opened the doors to private airlines and the law does not prohibit introduction of the private sector into the transportation sector,” Justice Chauhan said.
The CJ said, “in fact, private players have invaded the Indian Railways, which was a monopoly till some years back. Now, private players are playing a pivotal role in the Indian Railways.”
Chikkudu Prabhakar, counsel for the petitioner, argued that there was a hidden agenda behind the Cabinet decision in privatising 5,100 routes.
“The statement of the Chief Minister that there will be no RTC in the future is substantiated by the Cabinet decision allocating 5,100 permits in the TSRTC to private personnel. Section 102 of the MV Act, 1988 has been utterly violated”, Mr Prabhakar said.
The bench said the court was not worried about the statement made by the Chief Minister, rather whether or not the decision taken by the Cabinet was in consonance with the MV Act, 1988. The bench said, “Section 102 of the Act does not speak about the livelihood of the workers. Had Parliament said that it is worried about the livelihood and welfare of the workers, then so many amendments to various laws could not have been made by Parliament. In fact, the trend is more and more privatisation.” The court adjourned the hearing to Wednesday....