The Punjab and Haryana High Court Tuesday declined to grant a stay on receipt of applications by the Punjab government for grant of new minibus permits. The existing private minibus operators have challenged the grant of new permits, as announced by the Punjab government as part of its drive to check monopoly and undue profiteering in the transport business.
During the hearing, the counsel, representing the petitioner The Moga Mini Bus Operators Association, expressed an apprehension that the government will complete the entire process (of issuing the permits) by June 30. However, Additional Advocate General Rameeza Hakeem told the court that it was a lengthy process, covering more than 1400 rural routes, and is likely to take a considerable time. The June 30 date is merely a cut-off-date for receipt of the applications, the court was told.
Hakeem also contended that the petition by existing minibus operators was nothing but a ruse to keep “new operators out, cartelize rural transport, and maintain the monopoly of current bus operators, many of whom had been operating on routes for the past 25 years without any healthy competition”.
Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh had in the last Budget Session announced the issuance of 5000 mini-bus permits. The Transport Department had accordingly issued public notices inviting applications for grant of such permits. The process was initiated in early March.
The decision was challenged on the ground that the proposed policy would lead to a wholesale and unchecked grant of minibus permits by June 30, which would result in congestion of the rural transport market. The case has been adjourned for next hearing on August 10.
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