CHANDIGARH: The Punjab and Haryana High Court on Tuesday rejected the plea of the existing private minibus operators for a stay on receipt of applications by the Punjab government for grant of new minibus permits.
The existing operators had challenged the grant of new permits, as announced by Chief Minister Amarinder Singh in line with his government's commitment to check monopoly and undue profiteering in the transport business, and had sought a stay on receipt of applications for the same.
Refusing to stay the process of receipt of applications, the court accepted the state government's contention that the June 30 deadline set for the purpose was a matter of administrative convenience, and that the process for grant of permits, which covered more than 1,400 rural routes, was likely to take some time, according to a government release here.
Defending the stand of the government, Rameeza Hakeem, Additional Advocate General Punjab, 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 Singh had in the last budget session announced the issuance of 5,000 minibus permits, and the transport department had accordingly issued public notices inviting applications for grant of such permits.
The process was initiated in early March 2020 through a public drive.
The government's move was challenged by the existing private minibus operators on the ground that the proposed policy would lead to a wholesale and unchecked grant of mini bus permits by June 30, 2020, would congest the rural transport market and would upset the transport scheme of the state.
The matter was heard by a division bench comprising Justices Ranjan Gupta and Karamjit Singh, said the release.