Chandigarh, September 28
Providing interim relief to the taxi operators in Chandigarh, the Punjab and Haryana High Court today allowed them to use the temporary structures in parking lots meant for drivers. Justice Rajesh Bhardwaj of the High Court also directed the unlocking of the structures, permitting the petitioners to resume their previous use until the next date of hearing.
“The locks of the temporary structures meant for taxi drivers in the parking will be opened by the respondent-department with immediate effect and the petitioners would be allowed to use the same as they were using it earlier till the next date of hearing,” asserted Justice Bhardwaj.
Emphasising the importance of an amicable resolution, Justice Bhardwaj further urged a collaborative approach to resolve the underlying issue and instructed the UT Administration and other respondents to consider the proposal put forth by the petitioners. They had, among other things, proposed the paying of outstanding arrears at the revised rates in easy instalments.
Justice Bhardwaj also made it clear that the respondents, as part of the court's directive, were required to file a status report on the outcome of the petitioners' proposal before the hearing in second week of November.
In their petition before Justice Bhardwaj's Bench, Gurjinder Singh and other petitioners had earlier submitted that they had taken on lease the taxi stands for parking their vehicles. But there was an exorbitant increase in the lease rates by the respondent-administration. As a result, they were not in a position to pay.
The petitioners added they were ready to pay the revised ground rent, but it should be charged in easy instalments.
The Bench was also told that the temporary structures were constructed for sitting purpose of the drivers. But these were forcibly locked by the department concerned the previous day. Necessary items and keys, etc. were still lying inside, it was added.
The respondents submitted that the taxi stands were in existence since the municipal corporation's inception in 1996. Initial lease rates were Rs 5,100 per month for 1,500 square meter. It was later revised to Rs10, 000 per month in 2018.
It was also submitted that the petitioners had earlier challenged the revised rates, but their plea and subsequent appeal were dismissed. Their review petition was pending. "Though the structures of some of the taxi stands were not locked as they had paid the revised rent, the petitioners have not paid any arrears to date," it was added.
The respondents also contended that the present petition was not even maintainable as the petitioners had the alternative remedy of challenging the impugned order before the Municipal Corporation Administrator. The Bench was also told that the petitioners' proposal would be considered by the respondent-department in accordance with the law.
Court calls for amicable resolution
Emphasising the importance of an amicable resolution, Justice Bhardwaj urged a collaborative approach to resolve the issue and instructed the Administration and other respondents to consider the proposal put forth by the petitioners. They had, among other things, proposed the paying of outstanding arrears at the revised rates in easy instalments.
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