SC upholds Kerala rule allowing transport authority to deny permit replacement | Expressway

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New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the validity of one of the provisions of the Kerala Motor Vehicles Rules which empowers the state transport authority to reject an application for license replacement if the vehicle, applied for to obtain the license , is older than the one being replaced.

The High Court overturned the 2017 judgment of the Divisional Bench of the Kerala High Court allowing the appeal of the state government and the Regional Transport Authority.

The High Court Division Bench had ruled illegal Rule 174(2)(c) of the Kerala Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989 which gives discretion to the Transport Authority to reject the application if the proposed new vehicle is older that those should be replaced.

The decision we have reached is based on the interpretation of statutory provisions and principles regarding the interpretation of subordinate legislation. As the judgment of the High Court is contrary to law, it is imperative and unavoidable that we set aside the judgment and rule on the correct position of the law…we set aside the judgment of the High Court…in holding that Rule 174(2)(c) is intra vires the provisions of the Act as well as section 83 of the Motor Vehicle Act. Appeals are allowed, said the panel made up of judges KM Joseph and PS Narasimha.

The 33-page judgment, written by Justice Narasimha, dealt with the enabling provision of the Motor Vehicles Act (MVA) 1988 and the disputed subordinate rule of the Kerala Motor Vehicle Rules 1989 to decide whether the latter was ultra vires the provisions. of Central Legislation, MVA.

The verdict considered the issue in the context of the argument that the power to prescribe the age limit of a motor vehicle is the exclusive domain of the central government.

Section 83 is an enabling provision. It allows the permit holder to replace the vehicle covered by the transport permit. The right to replace the vehicle under a permit is subject to authorization by the Authority. The right, as well as the power to grant an authorization, are subject to the condition that the vehicle to be replaced is of the same type, specifies the verdict.

There is yet another aspect which may bring some clarity to this position is that the vehicle which the Authority may not approve for replacement under section 83 of the MVA on the grounds that it is older than the vehicle covered by the permit, can be used as a transport vehicle in the state, he said.

There is no prohibition for such use as long as said vehicle can continue to be in condition and within the age limit prescribed by the central government. The stringency of Rule 174(2)(c) is only in the context of a valid transport license and not as a condition for transport vehicles as such, according to the verdict.

The dispute arose when a Shaju approached the RTO in 2017 under MVA Section 83 for permission to replace the 2016 model 38-seat vehicle covered by his license with another 33-seat vehicle. of the 2006 model for the transport service. on a road, Pattimattam-Kakkanad, Kerala.

Alleging the Authority’s inaction, the owner of the vehicle seized a single-judge seat of the High Court which decided the case directing the authority to examine the application on the sole ground of fitness for circulation and without reference to the vehicle model.

Aggrieved by the Single Judge’s decision, the Authority preferred intra-judicial appeal to the High Court Divisional Bench, which on 18 July 2017 dismissed the plea finding that Rule 174(2) ( c) Motor Vehicle Rules of Kerala, 1989 goes beyond the provision of MVA.

When, in the exercise of delegated authority, the subordinate authority, that is to say the State, establishes the rules, the rules must be in conformity with the law. The Rules cannot prevail over the Law nor limit the scope of the Law. Where the expression is a vehicle of the same character, then if rule l74(2)(c) restricts that an older vehicle cannot be introduced, this would restrict a person’s right under the provisions of the statute, the bench division had held.

Such exercise by a delegate certainly cannot be permitted. The rules must comply with the law and must not restrict or derogate from it. The rules to this extent therefore cannot be considered to comply with the law and should be considered inoperative, the High Court had said.

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