Allahabad High Court: The Division bench of Surya Parkash Kesarwani and Dr Yogendra Kumar Srivastava, JJ., expressed that:

The legislative intendment with regard to the mutual exclusion of the rule making powers of the Central and the State Government being clear, the matters falling under Sections 110 and 111 must be construed in a manner so as to maintain the exclusivity, and, a construction which may lead to an overlapping must be eschewed.

Petitioner sought challenge to a circular issued by the Transport Commissioner, U.P., dated 21-02-2020 whereunder directions were issued for inspection of bus/sleeper coaches and to cancel their certificate of fitness in case the vehicles are found to be not in conformity with the prescribed standards.

What is the grievance against the above-stated circular?

The stated circular contained a direction that the registration of buses be made only where the bus/sleeper coaches are in conformity with AIS 052, AIS 119, AIS 139 and AIS 153 standards and upon completion of the particulars specified under Form 22­B.

Another issue raised and challenged is the with regard to the notice issued to the petitioners by the Assistant Regional Transport Officer, Gorakhpur directing them to ensure that their sleeper coaches are in conformity with the specifications under Rules 136-A and 139 of the Uttar Pradesh Motor Vehicles Rules, 1998, within 15 days and to submit their vehicles for inspection failing which the certificate of fitness issued to them would be cancelled.

Grounds for Challenge

  • Section 111(2)(a) of the Central Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 (hereinafter referred to as ‘the Central Act, 1988’) provides the domain of the State ­Government for making rules regulating the construction of motor vehicles. Therefore, the power to make rules in this regard has been conferred upon the State Government
  • the consequential notices dated 14.02.2020 issued by the Assistant Transport Officer (Administration), Gorakhpur, are wholly without authority of law.
  • There is no provision under the Uttar Pradesh Motor Vehicle Rules, 1998 (hereinafter referred to as the ‘the U.P. Rules, 1998’), which provides for implementation of AIS­119. In absence of such provisions the requirement of making changes as per standards AIS 119/ AIS 052 ­ 2016, is without the authority of law
  • in the event, the court finds that the circulars and notices are valid and the petitioners are required to comply with it, then some time may be granted to comply with it inasmuch as the period for compliance provided in the notice, was affected by COVID-­19 Pandemic period and as such, no step could be taken.

Analysis, Law and Decision

Bench noted the provisions contained under Sections 110 and 111 of the Central Motor Vehicles Act, 1998 which contain the rule making powers of the Central and the State Government with regard to making rules in respect of construction, equipment and maintenance of motor vehicles and trailers as specified under Sections 110 and 111.

Sections 110 and 111 are in respect of matters which are distinct. Rule 125­C which relates to the subject matter of testing and approval for body building of the buses clearly falls within the domain of the rule making power of the Central Government under Section 110 and not under the rule making power of the State Government under Section 111.

Further, it was observed that there is a separation of the rule making powers of the Central Government and the State Government, with the subject matters being delineated and demarcated and there being no overlapping in regard to the same.

The subject matter of Rule 125­C which is in respect of the body building, testing and approval for body building of the buses, having been held to be within the domain of the rule making power of the Central Government under Section 110 (1), there can be no manner of doubt with regard to their applicability in terms of the provisions contained thereunder to all buses/sleeper coaches, including those which have been registered by the petitioners.

Hence, the Bench decided that the prescription of standards relating to testing and approval for body building of buses/sleeper coaches, as provided under Rule 125­C of the Rules, 1989 are applicable to all buses/sleeper coaches. These standards are also mandatory and an application for registration of a motor vehicle under Rule 47 (1) is to be mandatorily accompanied by a self-certification of compliance of the bus body built on drive away chassis by the bus body builder to the provisions of the Code and practice for bus body design and approval AIS: 052 as amended from time to time.

The notices which have been put to challenge are with regard to directing the petitioners to ensure conformity with prescribed standards and specifications and to submit their vehicles for inspection failing which the fitness certificate would be cancelled. Notices are consequential in nature and are of mandatory nature, therefore the validity of the notices cannot be questioned.

Hence the challenge cannot be sustained.

Court directed the petitioners to submit their response to the notices showing compliance with directions contained in the circulars with a period of 4 weeks from date. [Preeti Dubey v. Union of India, 2021 SCC OnLine All 181, decided on 24-02-2021]

Advocates who appeared before the Court:

Counsel for Petitioner:­ Siddharth Nandan, Ramesh Kumar Shukla

Counsel for Respondent :­ A.S.G.I.,C.S.C.

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