Srinagar: The J&K High Court on Wednesday directed the Secretary to the Government Transport department to remain present before court on Thursday after Regional Transport Officer Kashmir (RTO) could not explain his position and authority on the circular which he notified last month for the re-registration of non-J&K vehicles.
RTO Kashmir Akramullah Tak who was present before the court through virtual mode submitted that the decision to notify the circular was taken in a meeting convened by the Secretary to the Government, Transport Department for ensuring screening of the vehicles which bear non-local registration.
When the officer was asked by court, whether any exercise has been undertaken to meet the requirements of Section 47, 46 and 50 of the Motor Vehicles Act by the Transport Department. He submitted, “he has no records to that effect”.
The Court of Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey and Justice Vinod Chatterji Koul said that since the RTO Kashmir is not in a position to satisfactorily demonstrate the origin of the circular and his authority to issue it, “we feel it appropriate to ask the officer present to file his affidavit indicating therein as to what necessitated the issuance of the circular and remain in present in person along with all the records.”
“The Secretary to the Government Transport Department shall also remain present through virtual mode tomorrow,” the court directed.
Meantime, the court said the pendency of these pleas shall not form any impediment for the Transport Authorities to screen the vehicles with non-local registration marks for checking their veracity with respect to documents and the bonafide entry of such vehicles into the territorial limits of Jammu and Kashmir.
“Such exercise, however, shall be taken by the officials of the Transport department only.”
On earlier hearing, the Court had said that prima facie there appears to be a consensus over the fact that while adhering to the provisions of law, the competent authority can seek such response from the owners whose vehicle remain in the state other than one from where the vehicle is purchased for a period exceeding 12 months, “but the question is raised as to who that competent authority is”.
Also, Advocate General, D C Raina who on the last hearing was asked by the court to assist in the matter questioned the maintainability of the writ petition on the grounds that no cause of action had accrued to the petitioner with reference to violation of any of his rights qua the action taken by respondents.
The AG further had submitted that in implementation and adherence to the law and in application of Section 47 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, read with Section 50 and 54, the respondents have the authority to seek re-registration of the vehicles which have been purchased outside but have been in J&K for a period exceeding 12 months.
The petitioner, Zahoor Ahmad Bhat, a lawyer, had moved a plea through his counsel Altaf Mehraj stating that the circular issued by the RTO, Kashmir, was in contravention of Section 47 of Motor Vehicles Act 1988 and had asked the court to direct the respondents to refrain from seizing vehicles under the impugned circular.
The petitioner stated through the plea that a perusal of Section 47 would reveal that the power/jurisdiction for assigning a new registration mark on a vehicle is within the power/jurisdiction of the Central Government.
“In absence of the delegation of the powers otherwise vesting with the Central Government, the respondents have no authority to issue a Circular under challenge in terms of the instant Petition. In other words, it is submitted that the impugned Circular has been issued without jurisdiction, and as such, is liable to be quashed,” the petitioner stated.
It was also submitted that in case the impugned order is implemented, the petitioners as well as similarly placed persons would be subjected to double taxation by the respondents, which is in conflict with the Constitution of India.