Court passes “no order” after hearing petition by a rights body
The High Court has upheld the gazette notification issued by the government hiking bus fares by 60% after public transport resumed after easing the shutdown, which was enforced to stem the spread of coronavirus.
On Thursday, the bench of Justice JBM Hassan passed “no order” following a virtual hearing of a petition by a rights body challenging the legality of circular by the road transport ministry.
Barrister M Humaun Kabir Pallob argued for the petitioner while Deputy Attorney General Samarendra Nath Biswas stood for the state.
The Court’s “no order” means the gazette hiking bus fares will remain in force, said the state counsel following the hearing.
On June 1, Barrister Pallob lodged the writ with the court on behalf of the Law and Life Foundation.
It argued that the fare hike came at a time when the people are struggling with hardships brought on by the coronavirus crisis.
If lower and middle-income citizens, who mostly use public transport, are already struggling to pay existing fares, it is illogical to expect them to pay increased fares. It is an oppressive measure that is contradictory to citizens’ fundamental rights, the writ cited.
The government increased fares for buses by 60% with effect from June 1 in an effort to counteract the loss of passenger carrying capacity of vehicles to ensure adherence to social distancing protocols.
The circular also said that the fare hike will be applicable only as long as the Covid-19 crisis persists. Previous fare rates will be reinstated as soon as the crisis ends.