Himachal Pradesh high court, in its Thursday's judgment, which was released here on Saturday, ordered the transport department and Himachal Road Transport Corporation (HRTC) to fix the fare of state-run buses as per September 30, 2013 notification.
The HC has also directed HRTC to draw a time table for running the buses to ensure equitable distribution of passengers between the government and private-run buses so that there is no unnecessary heart burning amongst the private operators.
A division bench comprising of justice Rajiv Sharma and justice Tarlok Singh Chauhan passed the judgment giving partial relief to private bus operators.
The HC has also asked the state government to finalise the scheme for running buses received under Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM).
The petitioners (private bus operators) submitted a complaint, stating that JnNURM buses could not be plied by HRTC and if plied, the same could be plied in urban areas of Shimla alone and not inter-district or inter-state.
"We find force in this submission because after inviting the private players to compete and operate, the HRTC cannot indulge in unfair practice by introducing these promotional fares. This has not only introduced unhealthy competition but has the effect of virtually eliminating the private operators," judgment read. "The respondents owe a duty to ensure that there is no heart burning and also to ensure that there is no unhealthy competition," court ruled.
The court also ruled that buses procured under JNNURM were with concessional fares and majority of passengers would board these buses, whereas the private operators would be left high and dry.
However, the court observed that it had been clarified by the state that these buses as of now are not plying inter-state routes. "Therefore, now it only remains to be determined as to whether the operation of JnNURM buses is confined to the urban area or the same can also be plied in clusters of cities as canvassed by the respondents," the judgment read.