18 Oct 2010

Restriction on blue line buses reasonable: High Court

At one point of time the newspapers in the National Capital were flooded with reports of innocent citizens being mauled by blue line buses in so much so that theses buses were looked down as the messengers of the death-god. After much hype speed regulators were installed in these buses and ultimately the issue came down. However the Government did work its part in as much as it imposed a number of restrictions on the operations of these blue-line buses. The legal process did not remain untouched. The restrictions were challenged before the High Court as being arbitrary and unreasonable. 

The Delhi High Court in a recently reported decision [Bernard Soreng v. State Transport Authority 2010 (171) DLT 501] has declared that these restrictions are within the limits of reasonableness and thus warded off the challenge by the owners of the blue-line buses. Dismissing the challenge, a single judge of the High Court inter alia observed as under;
18. In line with the directions of this Court which was to safeguard the interest of the commuting public who were facing risk to both life and limb by the increase in the number of fatal accidents by the blue line buses, the aforenoted policy decision promulgated in policy no.2/2009 had been formulated. The power of the Department to impose such a condition was drawn from the provisions of Section 87(d) of the said Act.
19. It is relevant to state that this resolution dated 3.6.2009 is not the subject matter of challenge before this Court. The prayer in the writ petition is that department should be directed to renew the permits of the petitioners.
20. The conditions imposed by this resolution dated 3.6.2009 are even otherwise reasonable and do not in any manner infringe upon the fundamental rights of the petitioners as has been contended. It is not as if the bread or butter of the petitioners has been snatched or taken away. They are still permitted to ply their buses but with a rider. A rash, negligent and reckless driver must face the consequences of his act. These conditions are in the nature of reasonable restrictions on the right of the petitioners to ply their buses i.e. if he suffers one single fatal accident he will not get renewal of his stage carriage permit but will be permitted to apply for a contract carriage permit. In case of an acquittal, this accident will not come in his way; meaning thereby that he can still seek renewal of his stage carriage permit. These conditions are fair and reasonable; the object being to remind such a reckless driver and bring to his notice that he owes some duties and obligations to the job which he is performing. It is also not discriminatory as it is applicable to a distinct class; classification of such drivers in a separate category is a reasonable classification and has a close nexus to the object which the policy seeks to achieve.

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