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Release Orbit buses, allow them to ply provisionally: Punjab and Haryana HC

The bench of Justices Ajay Tewari and Pankaj Jain, while hearing the plea of Orbit Aviation Private Limited, issued notice to Punjab government, Punjab transport department and Secretary, Regional Transport Authority.

By: Express News Service | Chandigarh |
November 23, 2021 11:38:56 pm
“We deem it appropriate to direct the respondents to release the buses forthwith and to permit the petitioner to provisionally ply them”, ordered the bench.

Hearing the plea of a private transporter in Punjab – Orbit Aviation – challenging the state’s order of cancelling its permits over non-payment of taxes, the Punjab and Haryana High Court Tuesday directed the transport department to release their buses forthwith and permit the petitioner to provisionally ply them.

The bench of Justices Ajay Tewari and Pankaj Jain, while hearing the plea of Orbit Aviation Private Limited, issued notice to Punjab government, Punjab transport department and Secretary, Regional Transport Authority.

The petitioner, through counsel Senior Advocate Puneet Bali, advocates Surjeet Bhadu and Vaibhav Jain, pointed out that originally by order dated October 11, 2021, the competent authority had permitted the petitioner to make the payment of the government dues of Rs 77,15,061 in four monthly installments of Rs 19,28,765. The petitioner had paid the first installment, when a week later, by order dated October 18, 2021, the order of permission to pay an installment was revoked and the petitioner was directed to pay the taxes in lump sum. It is not disputed that by November 15, 2021, the entire tax was paid by the petitioner up to November 30, 2021 but before that on November 12, 2021, the permit of the petitioner was cancelled.

The petitioner has thus challenged the orders dated November 12, 2021, vide which the Secretary, Regional Transport Authority, Bathinda, has cancelled the 32 permits for plying buses (integral coach) granted to the petitioner on the ground that the petitioner were liable to pay Motor Vehicle Taxes, but has not paid the tax after April 1, 2021. The petitioner has contended that no notice was issued to the petitioner before cancellation of permits nor any opportunity of explanation was granted.

Advocate General, Punjab, DS Patwalia, in reply to the matter, pointed out that in the first place, after the order of October 18, the petitioner did not make a payment of single penny nor did it make any application informing the government that the company was intending to make the full payment. Patwalia argued that after that the respondents were constrained to cancel the permit in view of default of the petitioner to not make the payment.

The petitioner had made the payment thereafter and therefore, its bona fides are suspect.

He further stated that there is no provision in the Act or the scheme for revocation of cancellation of permit and though this court in the exercise of its extraordinary jurisdiction can do so but that power could be served only if writ petition is to be finally heard and allowed if at all.

The division bench held, “In the present case, the position which has emerged is that an order allowing the petitioner to pay installments was passed…Once the petitioner had been permitted to make the payment in installments, for withdrawing that order, in our considered opinion, a notice must have been issued. That is not all. It is not disputed by the learned Advocate General as that now as matter stands the petitioner has paid the entire tax amount due till November 30, 2021.”

“We deem it appropriate to direct the respondents to release the buses forthwith and to permit the petitioner to provisionally ply them”, ordered the bench.

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