lmv license for transport vehicle

Supreme Court: While dealing with the issue of “whether a person holding a driving licence in respect of a ‘light motor vehicle’ could on the strength of the license be entitled to drive a ‘transport vehicle of light motor vehicle class’ having unladen weight not exceeding 7500 kgs”, the 5-Judge Bench of Dr. Dhananjaya Y. Chandrachud, CJ., Hrishikesh Roy, Pamidighantam Sri Narasimha, Pankaj Mithal and Manoj Misra, JJ. requested the Union Government to consider the question and express its views after careful evaluation of policy considerations.

The instant matter was referred to the Constitution Bench against order passed by a three-judge bench on 8-03-2022, which in turn was hearing a reference by a two-judge bench dated 3-07-2018.

Coming to the primary issue in the instant matter that whether a person holding a driving licence in respect of a “light motor vehicle” could on the strength of the licence be entitled to drive a “transport vehicle of light motor vehicle class” having unladen weight not exceeding 7500 kgs, the Court stated that the same was dealt with by a three-judge bench in Mukund Dewangan v. Oriental Insurance Co. Ltd., (2017) 14 SCC 663 wherein, it was held that no separate endorsement on the license is required to drive a transport vehicle of light motor vehicle class, and a license under Section 10(2)(d) was still valid after Amendment Act 54 of 1994. It was further clarified that the said amendment was limited to the categories of vehicles specified and does not exclude transport vehicles from the purview of LMV, hence, a person holding LMV driving license can drive transport vehicle of such class without any further endorsement.

It was submitted that the decision in Mukund Dewangan (supra) skipped on noticing certain provisions of Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, particularly finger pointing Sections 3, 75(3), 4(1), 7 and 14, and Rules 5 and 31 of Central Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989. The Court noted that the Union of India was not a party to the proceedings when the referral order dated 8-03-2022 was passed.

It was submitted on behalf of the Union that the application of ratio in Mukund Dewangan (supra) enables a person having LMV driving license to drive a transport vehicle, an interpretation of the statutory provisions and Rules which does not appear to be in accordance with the legislative intent.

The Court noted that the Union Government issued letter dated 16-04-2018 taking note of the said judgment as the law declared by the Supreme Court. Further, the notification dated 31-03-2021 was issued to further amend the Rules to bring them in conformity with the judgment, but the Attorney General of India had submitted that the same may not be treated as a policy declaration, and that the letter and notification may not have any bearing of conclusiveness on the clarification of state of law. It was further stated that the Union Government was open to ‘issue any guidelines/regulations to address the perceived gaps in law’ as in Mukund Dewangan (supra).

The Court found it necessary for the Union Government to have a fresh look at the matter and viewed that there was a rapid evolution of the transport sector in the last few years after enactment of MV Act 1988 with the emerging infrastructure and arrangements for putting into place private transport arrangements. It further stated that any interpretation or formulation of the law must duly take into account valid concerns of road safety bearing on the safety of users of public transport facilities, and that any change in the legal position as in Mukund Dewangan (supra) would have an impact on persons driving commercial vehicles with LMV license, having obtained insurance based on the law declared by the Court, being a large number of persons dependent on the sector for earning their livelihood.

The Court expressed that the considerations flagged in the instant order may not weigh in the same direction but raise important issues of policy which must be assessed and evaluated by the Union Government. The Court left it to the Union Government to determine whether a change in law was warranted through diverse considerations falling within its remit during policy making choices and decisions.

With the view that the issue of interpretation referred to the Constitution Bench should await careful evaluation of policy considerations weighing upon for the Government to decide whether reversal of decision in Mukund Dewangan (supra) was warranted, and the way forward to be adopted, the Court requested the Union Government to carry out the said exercise within 2 months. The instant matter was listed for directions on 22-11-2023.

[Bajaj Alliance General Insurance Co. Ltd. v. Rambha Devi, 2023 SCC OnLine SC 1165, Order dated 13-09-2023]

Advocates who appeared in this case :

For Appellants: Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, Senior Advocate Jayant K Sud, Senior Advocate Siddhartha Dave, Advocate Jagdish Chandra Solanki, Advocate on Record Archana Pathak Dave, Advocate Kartik Jasra, Advocate Vaibhav Dwivedi, Advocate A N Krishna Swami, Advocate Udai Khanna, Advocate Avnish Dave, Advocate Jagdish C Solanki, Advocate Riya Sethi, Advocate Pratyush Srivastav, Advocate Vidhi Thaker, Advocate Parmod Kumar Vishnoi, Advocate Prastut Dalvi, Advocate Kumar Prashant, Senior Advocate Jayant Bhushan, Advocate Tushar Bhushan, Advocate Amartya Bhushan, Advocate Yojit Mehra, Advocate Ketan Paul, Advocate on Record Sukant Vikram, Advocate on Record Sakshi Mittal, Advocate Vishnu Mehra, Advocate Kunal Malhotra, Advocate on Record Amit Kumar Singh, Advocate K Enatoli Sema, Advocate Chubalemla Chang, Advocate Prang Newmai, Advocate Abhsihek Gola, Advocate on Record Viresh B. Saharya, Advocate Akshat Agarwal, Advocate Rajeev Kumar, Advocate P.K. Seth, Advocate on Record Manjeet Chawla, Advocate Usha Pant Kukreti, Advocate Meenakshi Midha, Advocate Kapil Midha, Advocate Garv Singh, Advocate Samiksha Gupta, Advocate Garv Singh, Advocate on Record Chander Shekhar Ashri, Advocate on Record Hetu Arora Sethi, Advocate on Record Rajeev Maheshwaranand Roy, Advocate Dr. Meera Agarwal, Advocate Ramesh Chandra Mishra, Advocate Sandeep Jha, Advocate Ram Ekbal Roy, Advocate on Record Binay Kumar Das, Advocate Neha Das, Advocate Priyanka Das, Advocate Aman Nihal, Advocate Sanjay Kumar Singh, Advocate Ravi Shankar Ravi, Advocate Sanjay Kumar Lal Das, Advocate Abhishek Kumar Gola, Advocate on Record Sudhir Naagar, Advocate on Record Anil Kumar, Advocate on Record Amrreeta Swaarup, Advocate on Record Rajesh Kumar Gupta, Advocate on Record Ganesh Kumar R., Advocate Sanjay Kumar Dubey, Advocate Vivek Kumar Pandey, Advocate on Record Shuchi Singh, Advocate Rakesh Kumar Tewari, Advocate Krishna Kant Dubey, Advocate Ujjwal Kumar Dubey, Advocate on Record Ram Lal Roy

For Respondents: Attorney General for India R. Venkataramani, Senior Advocate Neeraj Kishan Kaul, Advocate Punit Damodar, Advocate on Record C. George Thomas, Advocate Sanyat Lodha, Advocate Dhruv Sharma, Advocate Raghav Agrawal, Advocate Toshiv Goyal, Advocate Raveena Kinkhabwala, Advocate Prachi Pandey, Senior Advocate Anitha Shenoy, Advocate Vivek Mathur, Advocate Siddharth Agarwal, Advocate Ivan, Advocate Ayushma Awasthi, Advocate Namrata Sarah Caleb, Advocate Parita, Advocate on Record Mohini Priya, Advocate on Record Devvrat, Advocate Charu Sangwan, Advocate Anup Kumar, Advocate Abhijit Banerjee, Advocate Swati Setia, Advocate Devesh Kumar Agnihotri, Advocate Sachin Sharma, Advocate on Record Anuj Bhandari, Advocate Rajat Gupta, Advocate Gaurav Jain, Advocate Disha Bhandari, Advocate Anjali Doshi, Advocate on Record Kaustubh Shukla, Advocate Abhishek Gola, Advocate on Record Viresh B. Saharya, Advocate Akshat Agarwal, Advocate on Record Anilendra Pandey, Advocate Priya Kashyap, Advocate Rajeev Kumar Ranjan, Advocate on Record Shalini Kaul, Advocate Mallikarjun S. Mylar, Advocate on Record Ashok Bannidinni, Advocate Sujeet Kumar, Advocate on Record Nishanth Patil, Advocate Ayush P Shah, Advocate Vignesh Adithiya S, Advocate Tripurari Ray, Advocate Nithyananda Murthy P, Advocate Bhanu Prabha, Advocate Balwant Singh Billowria, Advocate Vivekanad Singh, Advocate Anirudh Ray, Advocate Atrul Wadera, Advocate N Suresha, Advocate Rajinder Singh, Advocate on Record Shilpa Singh, Advocate Sushil Kumar Sharma, Advocate on Record Pahlad Singh Sharma, Advocate Virendra Kumar, Advocate Manish Kumar Mishra, Advocate Kshitij Vedwal, Advocate Salil Paul, Advocate on Record Manjeet Chawla, Advocate on Record Nuli & Nuli, Advocate on Record Sibo Sankar Mishra, Advocate on Record Ganesh Kumar R., Advocate Manjunath Meled, Advocate Sandeep Sharma, Advocate Vijayalaxmi Udapudi, Advocate on Record Anil Kumar, Advocate on Record Subhro Sanyal, Advocate on Record Prakash Ranjan Nayak, Advocate C.B. Gururaj, Advocate Balaram Nayak, Advocate Animesh Dubey, Advocate Laxmi Haribhai Nakum, Advocate Sharanagouda Patil, Advocate Supreeta Patil, Advocate on Record S-legal Associates, Advocate Pradeep Gaur, Advocate Amit Gaur, Advocate Sunil Kumar Sethi, Advocate Sweta Sinha, Advocate on Record Rameshwar Prasad Goyal, Advocate on Record P. B. Suresh, Advocate Vipin Nair, Advocate Arindam Ghosh, Advocate Karthik Jayashankar, Advocate Anshumaan Bahadur, Advocate P.B. Sashaankh, Advocate Madhavi Yadav, Advocate A. N. Krishnaswamy, Advocate Navneet Kumar, Advocate Saurabh Tiwari, Advocate on Record Parijat Kishore, Advocate on Record Faisal Sherwani, Advocate Shikher Deep Aggarwal, Advocate Shivi Sethi, Advocate Onkar Thakur, Advocate M. Shoeb Alam, Advocate on Record Fauzia Shakil, Advocate Ujjwal Singh, Advocate Garima Chaudhary, Advocate Agastya Sen

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