It is not whether the former transport secretary is an expert or not, but that matters such as fare revisions cannot be left entirely to one retired civil servant, the Bombay high court said on Friday, while hearing a petition filed by Mumbai Grahak Panchayat.
The petition has challenged the government resolution that accepts the fare revision recommendations of the one-man Hakim committee.
PMA Hakim was a transport secretary with the Union government.
The court has asked the state to set up a committee involving experts in the fields of finance, transportation and auditing, which could be headed by an IAS-level chairperson. The panel must examine the fare hike and if it finds that it is not entirely correct, it can be amended, a division bench of justice DY Chandrachud and justice AA Sayed said.
Assistant government pleader Sandeep Shinde and advocate GS Hegde, who appeared for auto and taxi unions, said the tariff was revised in accordance with a formula devised by the Patankar committee report, after taking into account factors such as fuel price rise and cost of living.
When Shinde contended that Hakim was an expert and had submitted a report in 1996, justice Chandrachud asked: “After 16 years, you are going back to the same person. You didn’t find anyone else, maybe some younger expert for the job?”
The petitioner’s advocate, Uday Warunjikar, pointed out that the 1996 committee had comprised experts from other fields as well.
“You are moving into an era of deregulation of fuel price. A large part of the problem that citizens have is the lack of transparency,” the court said.
Chandrachud said drivers’ grievances should be taken into consideration, but the public should not feel that the process had been hijacked.
The court also wanted to know if electronic meters were tamper-proof.
“I haven’t got seen a copy of the court order so it won’t proper to comment on it,” said VN More, transport commissioner.