Around 250 pilgrims from Uttar Pradesh, who were stranded in Mumbai for the last five days, will finally be able to return to their homes in Sultanpur.
The Bombay high court on Monday directed the Regional Transport Office (RTO), Wadala, to release the four buses they were travelling in after imposing a fine of Rs 5,000 each on the bus owners.
On March 9, RTO officials had stopped four buses ferrying pilgrims, mostly senior citizens, at the Nehru Nagar depot in Kurla because the vehicles were more than eight years old.
According to a 2004 high court order commercial vehicles, which are more than eight years old, cannot enter the city limits.
A division bench of justice PB Majmudar and justice Amjad Sayed was hearing petitions filed by the bus owners, Vijay Dubey, Shiv Govind Pal, Phoolchand Jaiswal and Tribhovanath Pandey, seeking release of their buses.
The court directed them not to bring their vehicles to Mumbai until they are converted into Compressed Natural Gas-run buses.
After visiting Trimbakeshwar temple in Nashik district, the buses were headed to Somnath temple in Gujarat, via Mumbai when they were seized.
Additional government pleader Nitin Deshpande requested the court to impose a fine of Rs 10,000 each on the bus owners to set a precedent for others who might bring commercial vehicles more than eight years old into the city. But the court observed that the order should not be used as a precedent.
AP Madhuri, advocate for the petitioners, argued that the drivers, who possessed valid national permits, were from Uttar Pradesh and were unaware of the 2004 high court order.
Moreover, there were no signboards put up at check posts informing motorists of the same.
The 31-day pilgrimage had started from Benaras. The pilgrims had visited Jagannathpuri, Tirupati, Rameshwaram, Kanyakumari, Hampi, Trimbakeshwar until the buses were seized in Mumbai.
The last leg of their pilgrimage included Somnath, Pushkar and Mathura.