Telangana High Court allows route privatisation in transport sector

Judges say competition must be welcomed for benefit of people.

Hyderabad: The Telangana High Court on Friday declared that the state government had power to grant permits to private carriers in the transport sector. This clears the way for privatising routes of the State Road Transport Corporation (RTC).

A division bench comprising Chief Justice Raghavendra Singh Chauhan and Justice A. Abhishek Reddy dismissed a PIL by Professor P.L. Visweswara Rao challenging the Cabinet’s decision to permit private operators to run the buses on 5,100 routes, and upheld the Cabinet decision.

“While considering change brought in by globalisation, considering the needs of people, considering the expectation of people, and considering the force of a capitalised economy has come to rule the country, competition is more welcome than rejected,” the bench observed.

The bench noted that the Cabinet decision to initiate the privatising of 5,100 routes is yet to start.

Noting the recently-introduced Section 67(3) of the Motor Vehicles Act, Mr Chauhan said it had been introduced in September 2019 to improve the transportation sector, to make it competitive, for the convenience of passengers.

The bench made it clear that though Sections 102 and 67(1) (D) of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, empowered state governments to privatise certain RTC routes, the government has an obligation to maintain a balance of RTC and private services.

The bench also said it appeared that the Cabinet decided to delegate power to the RTC to privatise its routes, but Section 102 of the MV Act says the principal secretary of the transport competent authority is to initiate the process.

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