Chandigarh, June 23 (IANS) The Punjab and Haryana High Court on Tuesday rejected a plea of private minibus operators in Punjab for a stay on receipt of applications for new permits by the state government.
The existing operators had challenged the grant of new permits, as announced by Chief Minister Amarinder Singh to check monopoly and undue profiteering in the transport business.
Refusing to stay the process of receiving of applications from those interested, the court accepted the Punjab government's contention that the June 30 deadline set for the purpose was a matter of administrative convenience, and that the process for the grant of new permits for more than 1,400 rural routes was likely to take some time.
Additional Advocate General Rameeza Hakeem contended that the petition by the existing minibus operators was nothing but a ruse to keep the new operators out, cartelise rural transport, and maintain their own monopoly since many were operating on the allotted routes for the past 25 years without any healthy competition.
Amarinder Singh had, during the Budget session of the Assembly, announced the issuance of 5,000 new minibus permits. The Transport Department had accordingly issued public notices to invite applications for the grant of permits.
The process was initiated in early March through a public drive.
The petitioners had contended that the proposed policy would lead to a wholesale and unchecked grant of bus permits by June 30, congest the rural transport market and upset the transport scheme of the state.
The matter was heard by a Division Bench of Justices Rajan Gupta and Karamjit Singh.
It was listed for further hearing in August, after the completion of submission of pleadings by new applicants.