Bus operators lament new stipulations, SC stays tender for permanent route permits

Friday, 2 December 2016 00:07 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

By S. S. Selvanayagam

The Supreme Court issued an interim order staying the notice calling for tenders for the issuance of permanent passenger service permits for inter-provincial passenger transport in the down south expressway.

The Bench comprising Chief Justice K. Sripavan, Justices Eva Wanasundera and Priyantha Jayawardane also issued another interim order restraining National Transport Commission from taking steps pursuant to the notice calling for tenders for the above mentioned passenger service permits.

The Court granted leave to proceed with the fundamental rights petitions filed by aggrieved omni-bus operators for the alleged infringements of their fundamental rights to equality, and freedom to engage in lawful business.

The matter is fixed for hearing on 25 January. Petitioners A. G. P. Premalal, U. J. Chandana Kumara and D. L. Somaratne cited the National Transport Commission, Transport and Civil Aviation Ministry Secretary Ashoka Somaweera, Members of the Cabinet of Ministers, and members of the purported sub -committee and the Attorney General as respondents.

The petitioners challenge the purported recommendations of the National Transport Commission or the members of Cabinet of Ministers or Cabinet appointed sub-committee to invite quotations for issuance of permanent passenger service permits.  

The petitioners lamented that at the preliminary threshold stage, they have been denied the basic right to even submit a tender to determine and evaluate the issuance of permanent passenger service permits for inter-provincial passenger transport in the Expressway where the terminal entrance or terminal exit of the relevant routes are outside the district of Galle and their residences are outside the 10 kilometer radius of any terminus of each route.

They are seeking a declaration from Court that their fundamental rights have been violated by the Respondents’ prescription and imposition of such impugned stipulations.  

They are asking the Court to declare as illegal, null and void the impugned decision of the Respondents.

This petition was supported by Sanjeeva Jayawardane PC with Lakmini Warusevithana. There were three petitions along with it. Gamini Marapane PC with Navin Marapane appeared for one petition and Manohara de Silva appeared for another petition. Senior State Counsel Shahida Barrie appeared for the Respondents.

Railway Trade Union Alliance bows out of strike 

T​he Railway Trade Union Alliance has said they will not launch the scheduled island-wide strike today, following discussions presided over by President Maithripala Sirisena, the President’s Media said in a statement yesterday. 

The unions had earlier decided to launch a token strike from midnight with the aim of protecting the rights of employees of the Department of Railways.

Meanwhile, a group of representatives, including the President of the Lanka Private Bus Owners’ Association Gemunu Wijeratne, also held a discussion with the President on the same day.

During the discussion the Lanka Private Bus Owners’ Association stated that they would not join in the island-wide strike.

Before the implementation of the new fine system, the Motor Traffic Act should be amended and the amended Act should be submitted to the Attorney General before later being presented to Parliament for approval.

I​t was also stated that traffic rule violations for ​​speeding and overtaking from the left would be discussed further in the future.

Transport Minister Nimal Siripala De Silva and Deputy Minister Ashoka Abeysinghe also participated in the discussion.