HC orders release of Orbit buses

Allows petitioner to ply vehicles provisionally

HC orders release of Orbit buses

Chandigarh, November 23

The Punjab and Haryana High Court today directed the state of Punjab, the State Transport Commissioner and the Regional Transport Authority (RTA) to forthwith release the buses of Orbit Aviation Private Limited. Directions were also issued to permit the petitioner to provisionally ply the buses. Orbit Aviation is believed to be Badals-run company.

Payment of dues

  • The competent authority had allowed the company to pay dues in four instalments vide order on October 11, claimed petitioner
  • The first instalment was paid but the order was revoked vide another order on Oct 18 and the petitioner was told to pay in lump sum
  • The tax was paid up to November 30, but the petitioner’s permit was cancelled on November 12

The directions by the Bench of Justices Ajay Tewari and Pankaj Jain came on the petition seeking the quashing of 30 impugned orders dated November 12 passed by the RTA on the ground of being arbitrary, against the provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act and violation of the principles of natural justice.

Appearing before the Bench for the petitioner, senior advocate Puneet Bali with counsel Surjeet Bhadu, Vaibhav Jain and Shivam submitted the competent authority permitted the company to pay government dues of Rs 77,15,061 in four monthly instalments originally by the order dated October 11.

The petitioner paid the first instalment. But the order on permission to pay an instalment was revoked vide another order dated October 18. The petitioner was directed to pay the taxes in lump sum. The petitioner by November 15 paid entire tax up to November 30. But before that, the petitioner’s permit was cancelled on November 12.

Accepting notice issued by the court, Punjab Advocate General DS Patwalia pointed out the petitioner did not pay a single penny after the order dated October 18. It did not submit an application informing the government of intention to make full payment and did not even file an appeal against the order. The respondents were, as such, constrained to cancel the permit, in view of default in payment. The petitioner had made the payment thereafter. As such, its “bona fides were suspect”.

The Bench asserted once the petitioner had been permitted to make the payment in instalments, a notice was required to be issued for withdrawing the order.

“It is not disputed by the Advocate General now as matter stands the petitioner has paid the entire tax amount due till November 30. The matter has been adjourned to the week commencing after November 29. Since now the tax has been paid till November 30, we deem it appropriate to direct the respondents to release the buses forthwith and to permit the petitioner to provisionally ply them,” the Bench observed. — TNS

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