Pat HC | Difficult to fathom Corpn. was oblivious of Statutory requirements; HC comes down heavily on Patna Municipal Corpn. for failure to get its vehicles registered under MV Act

Patna High Court: The Division Bench of Sanjay Karol, CJ., and Partha Sarthy, J. slammed Patna Municipal Corporation for operating its vehicles without registration in contravention to provisions of the MV Act. The Bench expressed,

“It is difficult to fathom that Patna Municipal Corporation, a municipal body originally established in 1922, was oblivious of the factum of the requirement of getting 925 vehicles (Approx.) registered under the provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988.”

The instant Public Interest Litigation was filed to apprise the Court that the Municipal Corporation, Patna was operating its vehicle on road for collecting garbage without registration and insurance and in spite of complaint, no actions had been taken by the Corporation.

Observing the provisions of Section 39 of the Motor Vehicles Act, which is very categorical when it states that no person shall drive any motor vehicle and no owner of a motor vehicle shall cause or permit the vehicle to be driven in any public place or in any other place unless the vehicle is registered in accordance with the Chapter and the certificate of registration of the vehicle has not been suspended or cancel and the vehicle carries registration mark display in the prescribed manner, the Bench also referred to Section 192 of the M.V. Act which deals with the penal consequences of using a vehicle without registration.

In Union of India v. Jubbi, (1968) 1 SCR 447, wherein the Supreme Court had held as follows: “…The position now thereof is that a statute applies to State as much it does to a citizen unless it expressly or by necessary implication exempts the State from its operation.” Noticing that there was no provision under the Motor vehicle Act to exempt the State by any express provision or by necessary implication from registration of the vehicles of the State and it was not even the case of the State that the Vehicles of the Corporation were in any manner exempt from registration, the Bench stated,

 “Such vehicles were allowed to be plied in public places for a considerable period, thus potentially jeopardizing public and put interest, endangering human life and property.”

Stating that the Motor Vehicles Act being welfare legislation, was enacted to ensure road safety, compensation for victims of road accidents, third party insurance and health, the Bench emphasised on registration of vehicles as an essential step in achieving objective of the Act. Further, noticing the recent decision of the Supreme Court in Narinder Singh v. New India Assurance Co. Ltd., (2014) 9 SCC 324, wherein the Court had elaborately discussed the need to register vehicles under the Act, the Bench stated, despite the same, the respondent-Corporation, with audacity, took a stand of there being no requirement for the vehicles to be registered, purportedly under a misconception that they are above the law.

Noticing that all the vehicles of the Corporation had been registered, the Bench refrained from passing further direction in this regard however, the State was directed to take appropriate action against the erring officers/officials, who negligent in performing of their statutory duty which, the Bench added, should not be construed to be only of civil nature, but also in relation to the one envisaged under Section 192 of the Act. The directions were crystallized as under:-

  • No vehicle of the Municipal Corporation or its authorities would be plied in derogation of the provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988.
  • The Urban Development Department, Government of Bihar should have an enquiry conducted and take appropriate action against the erring officers/officials who were negligent in complying with the statutory provisions by allowing the vehicles to be plied for various purposes in public roads.
  • The disciplinary proceedings must be completed within four months. Simultaneously, the proceedings under Section 192 of the Act should be initiated against the erring officers/officials within a period of four months.

In the Backdrop of above, the petition was disposed of. [Nirbhay Prashant v. State of Bihar, 2021 SCC OnLine Pat 1920, decided on 03-09-2021]


Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.


Appearance:

For the Petitioner/s: Mr. Nirbhay Prashant (In Person)

For the State: Mr. Ajay Kr. Rastogi, AAG10, Mr. Sunil Kumar Singh, AC to AAG-10

For the Patna Municipal Corporation: Mr. Jaweb Gaffar Khan, Advocate

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