A two Judge Bench of Supreme Court on thursday has referred the matters to be decided by a larger bench to resolve the issue whether drivers having licence to drive light motor vehicles is required to obtain a prior endorsement to drive the transport vehicle even when the transport vehicle is of class of light motor vehicle.
The Court formulated the following questions for the consideration of larger bench
Citing the inconsistency amongst various judgments of apex court , the court has formulated the following questions to be answered by a larger bench:-
What is the meaning to be given to the definition of “light motor vehicle” as defined in section 2(21) of the MV Act ? Whether transport vehicles are excluded from it ?
Whether ‘transport vehicle’ and ‘omnibus’ the “gross vehicle weight” of either of which does not exceed 7500 kgs. would be a “light motor vehicle” and also motor-car or tractor or a road roller, “unladen weight” of which does not exceed 7500 kgs. and holder of licence to drive class of “light motor vehicle” as provided in section 10(2)(d) would be competent to drive a transport vehicle or omnibus, the “gross vehicle weight” of which does not exceed 7500 kgs. or a motor-car or tractor or road roller, the “unladen weight” of which does not exceed 7500 kgs. ?
What is the effect of the amendment made by virtue of Act No.54 of 1994 w.e.f. 14.11.1994 while substituting clauses (e) to (h) of section 10(2) which contained “medium goods vehicle”, “medium passenger motor vehicle”, “heavy goods vehicle” and “heavy passenger motor vehicle” by “transport vehicle”? Whether insertion of expression ‘transport vehicle’ under section 10(2)(e) is related to said substituted classes only or it also excluded transport vehicle of light motor vehicle class from purview of Sections 10(2)(d) and 2(41) of the Act?
What is the effect of amendment of the Form 4 as to operation of the provisions contained in section 10 as amended in the year 1994 and whether procedure to obtain driving licence for transport vehicle of class of “Light Motor Vehicle” has been changed ?
The Bench had observed with reference to various provisions of the motor vehicles act, that “transport vehicles” were included under the Act of 1988 under the category of “light motor vehicle”, “heavy motor vehicle” etc. as per gross vehicle weight or unladen weight, as the case may be, as evident from a bare reading of the aforesaid classification given in section 10(2) of the Act read with definition of light motor vehicle as defined in section 2(21) of the Act.Pursuant to certain difficulties faced by transport operators and members of public an Amendment Act No.54 of 1994 was inserted substituting clauses (e) to (h) of section 10(2) which contained “medium goods vehicle”, “medium passenger motor vehicle”, “heavy goods vehicle” and “heavy passenger motor vehicle” by “transport vehicle for simplification of procedures and policy liberalization , as it became necessary due to introduction of newer type of vehicles and faced increasing numbers of both personal and commercial vehicles in the country.
However by virtue of an amendment w.e.f 28/3/2001 the classification of vehicles were deleted and term ‘transport vehicle’ was inserted in tune with Section 10(2)(e) to (h) without bringing any change in category of transport vehicles of class of light motor vehicle as defined in section 2(21) of the Act of 1988 . The definition and classification of light motor vehicle in the Act however remained intact as it existed.
The apex court found out that there is inconsistency amongst various judgments of the court as to interpretation of rules prior and subsequent to amendment of 2001 in this regard. As in Ashok Gangadhar Maratha v. Oriental Insurance Co. Ltd. [(1999) 6 SCC 620,] S.Iyyapan v. United India Insurance Co. [(2013) 7 SCC 62] ,Kulwant Singh & Ors. v. Oriental Insurance Co. Ltd[ (2015) 2 SCC 186,]andNagashetty v. United India Insurance Co. Ltd. & Ors. [(2001) 8 SCC 56] it was held that a driver holding licence to drive a light motor vehicle could as well as was competent to drive transport vehicle of that category. In New India Assurance Co. Ltd. v. Prabhu Lal [(2008) 1 SCC 696] it was observed that prior to amendment in 2001 also it was necessary for a driver possessing licence to drive Light Motor Vehicle to obtain endorsement to drive transport vehicle of that category;whereas in National Insurance Co. Ltd. v. Annappa Irappa Nesaria [(2008) 3 SCC 464,], the Court laid down that before 28.3.2001 there was no necessity for holder of licence to drive light motor vehicle to have endorsement to drive transport vehicle; whereas in New India Assurance Co. Ltd. v. Roshanben Rahemansha Fakir & Anr (2008) 8 SCC 253 and Oriental Insurance Co. Ltd. v. Angad Kol & Ors (2009) 11 SCC 356 it was held that it is necessary for holder of light motor vehicle licence to obtain specific endorsement on licence, to drive transport vehicle of the light motor vehicle weight as provided in section 2(41).
The matter has now been directed to be placed before the Chief Justice to constitute a larger bench to resolve the issue.
Read the order here.