SC: No Temporary Permit for Private Carriers in Notified Route u/Scheme


May 18, 2018

Case name: Kerala State Road Transport Corporation Vs. Baby P.P. & Ors.

Date of Judgment: May 16, 2018

In this recent case, the Apex Court recognized the essence of Scheme formulated by the State Transport Undertaking (STU) under Section 100(3) of the Motor Vehicle Act. The Supreme Court reiterated that such a Scheme is a law by itself. While elaborating on the power of the State Government to formulate Scheme in public interest, the Supreme Court held that temporary permits could not be granted to private stage carriers in notified route.

In this recent judgment, the Three-Judge Bench of the Supreme Court ruled the following:

  • A temporary permit cannot be issued to a private stage carriage operator to traverse on the notified route which is being served by the STU (State Transport Undertaking), in excess of the permissible distance provided under the scheme.
  • That it is not open for a private stage carriage operator (the respondent no. 1) to operate its services by overlapping on a notified route for more than 5 kms or 5% (whichever is less) of the route of the private stage carriage operator (as specified under the Scheme) which is being served by the STU.

In the case, State of Kerala’s Scheme was disputed. Under the impugned Scheme the services to be operated by the STU along the notified route were to the exclusion of private stage carriages operating in the said route. Based on the Scheme, the Respondent’s application seeking a temporary permit in the notified route was rejected. However, in appeal the High Court ruled in Respondent’s favour holding that State Transport Authority or Regional Transport Authority can grant temporary permits to cater the need of travelling public.

Aggrieved by the same, the Appellant Corporation approached the Apex Court wherein the intrinsic issue that fell for consideration of the Court was:

Can a temporary permit be granted to a private stage carriage operator on a notified route (which is already being served by the STU) for a distance that exceeds the permissible limit provided under the scheme, that too not for intersecting but for merely traversing and consequently overlapping its service on the notified route? 

The Bench made the following observations:

  • That it is well settled that the scheme formulated and published by the State Government under Section 100(3) of the Motor Vehicle Act holds the fort in all matters involving permits. The scheme is a law by itself, as observed by this Court in various judgments including the case of Gajraj Singh and Others vs. State Transport Appellate Tribunal and others[1].
  • That the right to apply for and obtain permit in the notified scheme was totally frozen to the private operators giving exclusive right to the STU to apply for and obtain permits to run the stage carriages or additional service under Section 101 of the Act on the notified area, route or a part thereof and none else. With a non obstante clause in Section 101, the right to apply for and obtain temporary permits under Section 87 of the Act (providing for temporary permits) by private operators was taken away.
  • That the Scheme on hand partially excludes private stage carriage operators on the notified route, the same is to be adhered to. It is necessary in the public interest that road transport services on notified routes should be run and operated by the STU to the complete or partial exclusions of private stage carriage operators. In a State where the scheme has been published, subject to such scheme formulated by the State, no private stage carriage operator can operate beyond the stipulations of the scheme.
  • That the Scheme is a law by itself and until it is varied according to law, no private stage carriage operator has any right to camouflage any device to obtain the permits.
  • Overlapping and Intersection- That the “Scheme” intends total exclusion of private stage carriage operators for a notified route except for “intersecting” it is not open for the authorities to grant permits to private stage carriage operators to operate on the notified route but may be permitted merely to intersect within permissible limits. The “intersection” thus, is not traversing the same line of travel beyond permitted limits, but to cut across a notified route for its onward journey. This exception is carved out only to avoid hardships to travellers. Any other view contrary to the above view would amount to violating integrity of an approved Scheme. That an intersection is permissible, while an overlap is not.

The entire case can be accessed here.

[1] (1997) 1 SCC 650

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Shilpi Sharan

- Shilpi Sharan is the Editor at Vakilno1.com - an Advocate with extensive knowledge in myriad fields of Law. She has a flair of writing and has legal publications in national and international law magazines to her credit. She focuses on legal research and aims at raising public awareness of laws in India.