Hyderabad: The Central government on Thursday gave striking Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (TSRTC) employees a huge relief, by categorically submitting before the High Court that the TSRTC was not a statutory entity. It further contended that the Centre’s share of 33 per cent in the erstwhile APSRTC would not automatically transfer to the TSRTC.
With these two strong statements, the Centre has given a huge morale booster to the RTC workers and pushed the K. Chandrasekhar Rao-led TRS government on the backfoot.
N. Rajeswara Rao, assistant solicitor-general of India (ASG), submitted that since the APSRTC has not been bifurcated, the Centre cannot be concerned about TSRTC, which has not even come into existence.
He further submitted that the Telangana government has never sought to establish a legal entity called TSRTC, under Section 47(A) of Transport Act, as was mandatory, nor has the Centre approved the bifurcation of APSRTC because there was no request from the residuary Telangana and Andhra Pradesh states.
The ASG made it unambiguous that no RTC could be established or an existing one bifurcated without the approval of the Union of India, as there was a specific law to deal with the issue. He said that the Centre’s share is 33 per cent, and not 31 per cent as claimed by the state government and some petitioners in the case.
The High Court Bench ruled out the contention of Ramakrishna Rao, principal secretary, state finance department, that Section 107 of the AP Reorganis-ation Act, 2014, envisages the setting up of an RTC by state government for Telangana. The bench pointed out that the provision was applicable only when there was an inconsistency pertaining to institutions listed in Schedule 9 and 10 of the AP Reorgani-sation Act, but the case of RTC was distinct and concurrence of the Centre was necessary.
The Bench also refuted the submission of S.K. Joshi, chief secretary, who submitted that APSRTC was in schedule 9 of the AP Reorga-nisation Act and was bifurcated under Section 68(2) and 71 of the Act. In this background, the state government, which has been eager to privatise maximum number of routes, would not be able to move forward till the division of RTC assets between residuary states of AP and Telangana was completed.
Legal experts say that if the state government moved any further to privatise the RTC, such a move would not be able to withstand legal scrutiny, and would be found untenable after the Central government’s statement before the High Court.
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