Quashing a ban, the Nagpur Bench of Bombay HC said authorised representatives of automobile dealers are permitted to enter RTO premises after completing certain formalities
The Nagpur Bench of the Bombay High Court, in line with an earlier verdict issued in 2002, quashed the ban on authorised agents from entering Regional Transport Office (RTO) premises and directed Maharashtra government not to restrain these agents.
The decision came after transport commissioner Mahesh Zagade filed an affidavit in response to the petitions filed by as many as 45 authorised agents and their representatives. Zagade, in the affidavit stated that his circular did not mention anything about authorized representatives of automobile dealers and that the word "agent" was loosely used. The affidavit also states that the government would abide by all orders issued by the Court, including those issued on 6 June 2002, under which authorized representatives of automobile dealers were permitted to enter RTO premises after completing certain formalities, which includes presenting an authorization letter.
The petitions were filed by agents and their representatives in response to a circular issued by Zagade, which warned officials and clerks at various RTOs of strict action if any agent or tout was found on the premises. The circular even mentioned that officials or clerks may also be suspended on these grounds, and that the transport commissioner would conduct surprise visits and initiate disciplinary action if he found any agents inside RTO. Moreover, RTOs across Maharashtra were asked to give in writing that they had barred agents from entering their premises.
The petitioners challenged this circular through senior counsel Chandrashekhar Kaptan, JB Gandhi and Tushar Mandlekar. One of the petitioners, Akola Shahar Truck Owners Association, stated that since they own several vehicles, they need to comply with procedures and rules under the Motor Vehicle (MV) Act for obtaining necessary documents from the transport department. As some petitioners own multiple vehicles, it is impossible for them to visit the RTO to obtain permission for each of their vehicles. If they had to personally complete all formalities, they would not be in a state to carry on their business.
The petitioners also referred to an earlier Court verdict that was issued on 6 June 2012, according to which authorized representatives of such dealers were permitted to enter RTO premises after completing certain formalities. Hence, the Transport Commissioner's circular went against the Court order. The division bench of justices Bhushan Dharmadhikari and Sunil Shukre disposed of all petitions after accepting the affidavit and his statement that the government would abide by the 2002 orders.