Hyderabad: In a breather to the K Chandrasekhar Rao-led TRS government, the Telangana High Court on Friday quashed a petition against the state cabinet decision to privatise 5,100 bus routes in the state.
A Division Bench, comprising Chief Justice Raghvendra Singh Chauhan and Justice A Abhishek Reddy, dismissed the petition of PL Vishweshwar Rao, vice-president of the Telangana Jana Samithi, challenging the cabinet's November 2 decision to privatise permits of the TSRTC (Telangana State Road Transport Corporation) routes.
Advocate General BS Prasad said he gave an undertaking to the court saying that due procedure would be followed by the government while awarding the routes to private parties.
According to Section 102 of the Motor Vehicles Act 1998, the state government is empowered to privatise the bus routes, the court said. The government said, the recent amendment to the Act gave a further push to privatisation.
After the cabinet meeting on November 2, Rao had said the cabinet decided to award as many as 5,100 bus routes to private operators to maintain healthy competition and also warned that the rest of the routes would also be given to private operators if the TSRTC employees do not join duty.
Employees and workers unions of TSRTC started the indefinite strike from October 5 across Telangana on a call given by the Joint Action Committee (JAC) of the TSRTC, demanding merger of the corporation with the government and recruitment to various posts, among others.
Later, the unions said they were willing to drop the merger demand if it becomes a hurdle for the government to hold talks with them.
The Telangana High Court on November 18 directed the Commissioner of Labour to take a call on whether the ongoing strike by the unions of TSRTC should be referred to the Labour Court or not, in two weeks to decide the legality of the stir.
Two days ago, the unions said they were willing to join duty if the government provides a congenial atmosphere.
The chief minister would now have to take a call on the TSRTC employees' strike issue that has paralysed the state’s transport system for more than a month now. The government would have to announce its decision on the fate of the striking employees.
However, the convenor of the JAC, E Ashwathama Reddy, said the strike would be intensified to ensure that all employees are retained by the corporation. Reddy said the JAC will organise protests at all bus depots across the state on Saturday as he hit out at the chief minister for remaining inconclusive on the issue.
“If Rao is not ready to take back all the employees, we will go ahead with our agitation. We will decide on our future course action based on what is announced on Saturday by the government,” he added.
“In spite of setting aside the merger demand and calling off the strike, the government has failed to respond to the issue of taking back the employees,” Reddy said.
Earlier in the day, the JAC held a meeting at the old bus station near Afzal Gunj.
On Friday evening, the chief minister had held a four-hour meeting at Pragati Bhavan and discussed the issue with Transport Minister P Ajay Kumar, government advisor Rajiv Sharma, Chief Secretary SK Joshi and TSRTC in-charge MD Sunil Sharma.
The government is of the view that a permanent solution should be found to the problems, and providing better transport facilities to citizens would be the priority. A view has emerged in the meeting that the TSRTC cannot be run in the present form given the heavy financial implications involved in the affairs of the corporation, it said.