. VINOD CHANDRAN, J. ===================== W.P.(C) No.31063 of 2014 - G ====================== Dated this the 10th day of February, 2015 J U D G M E N T
The petitioners have purchased Tata Iris Autorickshaws (Auto Taxi) and obtained contract carriage permits, as evidenced from Exts.P2 to P27. The grievance is that, despite the Secretary, Regional Transport Authority having specified parking place at Sultan Bathery, the petitioners are directed to park at a distant place called Manikunnu, wherein, except the Court Complex, there is absolutely no activity. The petitioners seek identification of a suitable parking place within the Sultan Bathery town itself. Though "Sultan Bathery" has been specified as the parking place, the petitioners are prevented from parking any where inside the town for reason of the objection of the 5th respondent.
2. The learned Government Pleader who appears for respondents 1, 2 and 4 submits on instructions from the 4th respondent that, it is the Panchayath, who has arrived at a decision to permit the petitioners to park at Manikunnu. However, no order is said to have been communicated to the 4th respondent also.
3. In such circumstance, the writ petition itself was taken up and the petitioners' Counsel and learned Government Pleader were heard.
4. The issue with respect to parking of Auto taxies crop up intermittently all over the State; which is objected to by the Autorickshaw drivers. The Auto taxies are considerably of higher purchase value but have the same fares as Autorickshaws. Many of the persons, who purchase it, maintain it for eking out their livelihood by plying the same as a contract carriage. The Autorickshaws too are plied for the very same purpose and the Autorickshaws cannot be removed from the road on introduction of a newer model of Auto taxies nor can the Auto taxies be interdicted from plying in the area where the Autorickshaws are plied. Both should adopt an attitude of "live and let live"; and endeavour to eke out a livelihood in the available circumstances and not by restricting operations of one or the other.
5. One other aspect which assumes significance is that when such restrictions are attempted, the authorities do not look at the convenience of the general public and are led by extraneous considerations. Auto taxies definitely is an improvisation on the Autorickshaws and is a more convenient mode of public transport. However, that is not to say that either of these should be elected to be restricted or allowed to be plied in exclusion of the other.
6. Again when such disputes arise, they come to this Court only since, the authorities under the various enactments as also the Local Self Government Institutions take a recalcitrant attitude and refuse to even attempt a conciliated settlement between the two parties. Herein, despite notice being issued to the 3rd respondent, the Local Self Government Institution, none appear before this Court, for reasons best known to the 3rd respondent. The 5th respondent an Autorickshaw Co-ordination Committee, probably has not appeared, since, they are against the prayers sought for and can by their muscle power alone resist the claim of the petitioners. However, such a situation is not contemplated in a country where rule of law prevails. The Local Self Government Institution, the 3rd respondent also cannot abdicate its powers, statutorily conferred.
7. Notice having been served on the 3rd respondent, this Court definitely would issue directions to the 3rd respondent, who has to consider the application of the petitioners, produced at Ext.P30 in a reasonable manner after hearing the representatives of the petitioner and the representatives of the 5th respondent; and specify a parking place for the Auto taxies, even at the parking spot, identified for Autorickshaws. The Local Self Government Institution and the RTA could also, with the help of the Station House Officer having jurisdiction over the particular parking area, insist on a system being maintained wherein, alternatively an Autorickshaw and Auto taxi is allowed to be rented/hired by the general public. However, what is required for such a measure is the will on the part of the authorities, which cannot be substituted by a mere direction from this Court.
8. In any event, for the present, the 3rd respondent after hearing the representatives of the petitioners and the 5th respondent would take a decision in the matter and intimate the decision to the RTA, who is the authority to decide on parking places under Section 344 of the Kerala Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989, framed under Section 117 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988. To facilitate such consideration by the RTA, "The RTA, Sultan Bathery, Wayanad" is suo motu impleaded as the additional 6th respondent. The Registry shall carry out impleadment before issuance of certified copies. The directions herein above shall be complied with by the 3rd respondent within a period of three months from the date of receipt of the certified copy of this judgment and the additional 6th respondent shall convene a meeting of the petitioners as also the representatives of the 5th respondent and arrive at a settlement as directed herein.
With the above directions, the writ petition would stand disposed of.