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'Political Battle Not In Court' : SC Dismisses Punjab Govt's Plea To Cancel Bus Permits Of Ex-CM Badal's Company

Srishti Ojha
20 Dec 2021 4:41 AM GMT
Political Battle Not In Court : SC Dismisses Punjab Govts Plea To Cancel Bus Permits Of Ex-CM Badals Company
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State of Punjab vs Orbit aviation Pvt Ltd

The Supreme Court on Friday refused to interfere in a plea by the State of Punjab filed against the High Court's order directing the release of buses owned by Orbit Aviation Ltd, permitting them to ply subject to permit conditions. "Fight political battle in political field not in court," the Bench remarked.The respondent bus company is owned by the former Chief Minister of Punjab Prakash...

The Supreme Court on Friday refused to interfere in a plea by the State of Punjab filed against the High Court's order directing the release of buses owned by Orbit Aviation Ltd, permitting them to ply subject to permit conditions.

"Fight political battle in political field not in court," the Bench remarked.

The respondent bus company is owned by the former Chief Minister of Punjab Prakash Singh Badal's family.

The State Government had cancelled the permits of the bus company on grounds of non-payment of taxes. The High Court however allowed the bus company's plea seeking directions for quashing the order dated 12.11.2021 which cancelled the Permits granted to the Company.

A Bench comprising Justice Hemant Gupta and Justice Ramasubramanian refused to interfere while orally observing that the road tax has already been deposited, then cancellation of permits is unjustified

"You are interested in road tax or cancellation of permits? Fight political battle in political field not in court," the Bench told Advocate General for State of Punjab.

"In both, the petitioner admitted he is in default," AG Deepinder Patwalia responded.

"Amount of 2 crores has been deposited in last two months? How much more is due? If amount is paid then cancellation of permits is unjustified," the Bench said.

"The question is if entire road tax stays deposited where's the question of cancellation of permit?", the Bench remarked.

On the issue of non-issuance of notice to respondent before cancellation of permits, the Bench said, "You want to cancel permit without issuing notice?".

The Advocate General however submitted that once they admitted they were in default the question of notice doesn't arise. He added that the company's buses were compounded for three months but that didn't compel them to deposit the amount.

"This is not a case of interference. If road tax amount has been deposited nothing survives. Entire permit was cancelled on ground of no deposit, now the deposit has been made," the Bench orally observed.

In the present special leave petition filed through Advocate Ranjeeta Rohatgi, the State of Punjab has stated that it had passed an order for cancellation of permits of the Respondent to ply stage carriage bus service on the notified route from different cities of Punjab to Chandigarh.

The Respondent company is Orbit Aviation Private Limited, engaged in the business of transportation and operating stage carriage services in the State of Punjab.

The petition has stated that the State impounded 4 buses of the Respondent under Motor Vehicles Taxation Act, 1924 on account of non-payment of taxes. Also, through its Order dated 12.11.2021 it cancelled 32 Permits for plying buses (Integral Coach). However the Respondent made the payments only after cancellation of the permits at a belated stage.

The petition has pointed out that the respondent Company filed a writ petition before the High Court of Punjab & Haryana at Chandigarh praying for issuance of directions for quashing the order dated 12.11.2021 which cancelled the Permits granted to the Respondent Company.

It was the case of the bus company before the High Court that no notice was given to them before cancellation of permits nor any opportunity of explanation was granted as mandated by section 86 of the Act, therefore the cancellation orders were contrary to section 86 of MV Act.

The High Court ordered in favour of the petitioners and directed the State to release the buses forthwith and to permit the Respondent herein to ply them subject to the conditions of the permit

The High Court held that a conjoint reading of Section 86 and Clause 11 of the Scheme leads to inevitable conclusion that the petitioners deserve opportunity of hearing or at least show cause notice before penal action of cancellation of their permits was taken invoking Section 103(2)(b) of the MV Act.

Case Title: State of Punjab vs Orbit Aviation Pvt Ltd 

Click here to read/download the order

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