The Madras High Court has directed the Regional Transport Officer (RTO), South West in Valasarawakkam, to return the driving licence seized from an MTC driver for causing an accident.
N Ramakrishnan drove the MTC bus on May 25 last. While trying to board the bus, a passenger fell down and sustained injuries. A criminal case was registered under the IPC against Ramakrishnan and the police seized his original driving licence. He filed the present writ petition for a direction to RTO to return the licence to enable him to join duty.
Citing an earlier ruling of a division bench of this High Court, advocate RY George Williams contended that the RTO was not the authority to impound the licence without affording any opportunity to the driver, under Sec 19 of the Motor Vehicles Act.
Justice D Hariparanthaman observed that a bare reading of Sec 19(1) of the Act showed that the licensing authority had the power to revoke any licence or disqualify a person for a specified period from holding or obtaining a driving licence, if any of the contingencies prescribed in clauses (a) to (h) of sub-section (1) of sec 19 arose. Morever, the power under Sec 19(1) could be invoked only after giving an opportunity of being heard to the licence holder.
The judge allowed the writ petition in terms of the ruling of the division bench passed in 2010 and directed the RTO return the licence to Ramakrishnan within a week. The judge, however, made it clear that this order would not preclude the RTO from initiating any action, if any of the contingencies specified in clauses (a) to (h) of Sec 19(1) of the Act, arose later or if any of the rules as prescribed by the central government in pursuance of Sec 19(1)(f) were violated.