BIMALANANDA GHOSH & ORS. Vs. STATE OF WEST BENGAL & ORS.
HIGH COURT OF CALCUTTA
BIMALANANDA GHOSH And ORS.
STATE OF WEST BENGAL AND ORS.
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Bimal Chandra Basak, J. -
(1.)This application is directed against a resolution of the Regional Transport Authority, Hooghly (hereinafter referred to as R.T.A.) dated 21st of Jan., 1976 and the communication thereof by the Secretary of the R.T.A. by his letter dated 28th Jan., 1976. The facts of this case are as follows:-
(2.)Petitioners are bus operators in respect of route No. 16/20 in the region of Hooghly district. The said route runs between i) Arambagh to Tarakeswar; (ii) Garerghat to Tarakeswar; (iii) Kablay to Banamalipur; (iv) Dighrui Ghat (West) to Ramnagore; (v) Samanta Road to Dighrui Ghat (East). It is alleged that the Banerjee Commission had made certain recommendations in respect of the rates in Hooghly district. It is further alleged that the R.T.A. Hooghly, by a resolution No. I dated 1st July, 1974 resolved that the minimum bus fare would be fixed at 10 paise where it is less than that. The said R.T.A. further resolved that the bus fare should be increased by 1 paise per kilometer where the existing fare is less than 3.5 paise per kilometer provided that the increase should be adjusted in such a manner that the fare per kilometer does not exceed 3.5 paise per kilometer. The R.T.A. concerned further resolved that there should not be any increase of fare after 40 kilometer and the increase will take effect from 10th of June, 1974. It is also alleged that pursuant to the said resolution the R.T.A approved the bus fare table in respect of the said route. It is alleged that the fare tables were approved on an ad hoc basis in so much as the rates approved by the said R.T.A. were not in conformity with that of Banerjee Commission. It is alleged that thereafter certain persons on behalf of the Bus Jatri Samity of routes 16, 20, 20A Issued hand bills protesting against the change in fare structures. It is stated that thereafter by an order dated 24th July, 1974 the Secretary, R.T.A. informed the Secretary of route No. 16/20 not to realise the bus fares at the enhanced rate pending fresh measurement of the route after opening of the permanent bridge. Thereafter, a representation was made by the petitioners by their letter dated 21st Aug., 1974. By a letter dated 17th Oct., 1974 the Secretary, R.T.A. informed the Bus Association that the report of the Banerjee Commission would be placed in the next meeting of the R.T.A. Thereafter certain representations were made both by the bus operators and by the passengers. Thereafter it appears that in its meeting held on 12th Dec., 1975 the R.T.A. adopted the following resolution:-
"In view of the difficulties faced by the bus operators due to rise in price of fuel .and motor parts etc., it is resolved that an increase of bus fares in respect of all the routes of this district be allowed at the rates specified below:-
"(1) Ordinary Bus Routes : 15 paise for the first stage and increase of 5 paise for each subsequent stage in respect of all routes excepting bus routes No. 1 (Chinsurah Court to Chinsurah Rly. Station).
Regarding route Nos. 17 and 18, no change will be made pending disposal of the Civil suit.
(2) Bus Route No. 1 : 15 paise first stage and thereafter the rates of subsequent stages be fixed at the rates of 20 paise and 25 paise per stage.
(3) Express Bus Service : Status quo be maintained in respect of existing 1st stage and increase of 5 paise be allowed in respect of subsequent stage.
(4) Mini Bus Service : 50 Paise (minimum) for first stage upto 3 k.m. and thereafter 13 paise per k.m.
(5) Inter Regional Routes (excepting CSTC and DSTC) Bus fares be allowed to be realised in conformity with the rates prevalent in the concerned regions where the vehicle will ply. The Increase will take effect from 1.1.1976. All Bus operators should display the enhanced rates in their buses and notice boards after approval of the travelling public. Before that, the operators must not collect fare at the new rate."
(3.)Thereafter it is alleged that certain people started agitation against such fare fixation. It is stated that the petitioners came to know that on 21st Jan., 1976 the RTA has reviewed its earlier resolution and passed fresh resolution. The said resolution is as follows:-
"Resolution No. 1 t Proceedings of the RTA meeting held on 12.12.1976 were read and discussed thoroughly. Sri Amarendra Adak, General Secretary, Hooghly District Congress Committee and the representatives of passengers association of Bus route No. 16/20 were also heard. Resolved that the proceedings of the meeting be confirmed subject to certain amendments. In respect of resolution No. 16 for enhancement of Bus fares, as detailed below:-
(1) There shall be an increase of 5 paise at every existing stage over the fares obtaining prior to 1.1.76 subject to the maximum limit of 4 paise per k.m. but there is no question of limitation of first stage with fare of 15 paise. This will take effect from 1.2.76."
By his letter dated 28th of Jan., 1976 the Secretary of R. T. A. informed the Secretary of Bus Route Nos. 16/20 as follows:-
"From : The Secretary,
Regional Transport Authority, Hooghly.
To : The Secretary,
Bus Route No. 16/20.
Sub : Bus fare in respect of Bus route No. 16/20 as per Resolution of R.T.A. meeting held on 21.1.1976.
An extract copy of Resolution No. 1 of R.T.A. meeting held on 21.1.1976 is sent herewith for submission of revised fare table for approval. The revised fare table will take effect from 1.2.76. The bus owners will not be entitled to the benefit of bus fares of R.T.A. meeting held on 1.6.74.
Yours faithfully, Sd/- Illegible, 28.1.76. Secretary, Regional Transport Authority, Hooghly.
Bus Route No. 16/20.
"There shall be an increase of 5 paise at every existing stage over the fares obtaining prior to 1.1.76 subject to maximum limit of 4 paise per k.m. but there is no question of limitation of first stage with fare on 15 paise. This will take effect from 1.2.76."
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