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M/s. Containe Technologies Private Limited v/s State of Himachal Pradesh & Another

    CWP Nos. 68 & 69 of 2020
    Decided On, 10 January 2020
    At, High Court of Himachal Pradesh
    For the Appellant: AtuI Jhingan, Advocate. For the Respondents: Ajay Vaidya, Senior Additional Advocate General, Adarsh K. Sharma, Nand Lal Thakur, Additional Advocates Generals.

Judgment Text
L. Narayana Swamy, CJ.Oral1. The Central Government by exercising its powers conferred under Clause (k) of Section 110 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 amended Rule 125-H of the Central Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989. The said amendment comes into effect from 1st April, 2018. The amendment provides for Location Tracking Device and Emergency Button made available to the Public Service Vehicles. Clause (1) of Rule 125-H provides that "all public service vehicles as defined under Clause (35) of Section 2 of the Act, shall be equipped with or fitted with Vehicle Location Tracking Device and one or more Emergency Buttons.". Clause 35 of Section 2 of the Motor Vehicles Act defines the word 'public service vehicle' means any motor vehicle used or adapted to be used for the carriage of passengers for hire or reward, and includes a maxicab, motorcab, contract carriage, and stage carriage. In order to comply with the amendment, Directorate of Transport, Himachal Pradesh addressed a letter in this regard on 20th December, 2019 to all the Regional Transport Officers in Himachal Pradesh and all the Registering & Licensing Authorities (SDO)(C) in Himachal Pradesh for registration document for Vehicle Location Tracking Device (VLTD) Manufacturers in Himachal Pradesh and it was directed that the vehicles of those owners, who have procured the VLT devices from the empanelled manufacturers only, shall be processed for registration/fitness.2. Learned counsel for the petitioners submits that the petitioners are duly empanelled manufacturers for VLT Device and as per the directions issued by the Directorate of Transport, dated 20th December, 2019. The RTOs and Registering & Licensing Authorities of Himachal Pradesh are supposed to direct the vehicle owners to get the installation of VLT device only from the empanelled manufacturers. Contrary to the said direction, some of the RTOs are passing the vehicels of parties who have not procured the VLT devices from empanelled manufacturers, which is contrary to the directions of the Directorate of Transport, Himachal Pradesh. The consequence of permitting the unempanelled manufacturers are that some of the fake or unempanelled manufacturers, who are not accountable for any purpose are being permitted to install the VLT devices on vehicles which is defeating the very purpose of registration and fitness and by allowing these unempanelled manufacturers to fit the VLT device the RTOs are passing the said vehicles, which is against the public policy also and ultimately, if it is so permitted, it will dilute the spirit behind the amendment made in Rule 125-H of the Central Motor Vehicle Rules, 1989. Hence, the learned counsel prays for issuance of direction to the respondents to procure VLT devices from registered/empanelled manufacturers only in terms of letter addressed to the petitioners on 23rd October,2019 by the Additional Commissioner of Transport, Himachal Pradesh and further sought directions to the respondents to ensure installation of VLT Devices with Panic Button on all the new and old commercial as well as public service vehicles in the State of Himachal Pradesh.3. In support of his contention, the learned counsel for the petitioners has relied upon the order passed in CWP No.7784 of 2010, dated 30.11.2012, wherein direction was issued that from 1st April, 2013 all commercial vehicles registered in the State of Himachal Pradesh must be equipped with VLT Devices.4. Learned Additional Advocate General has placed reliance on the communication addressed to the office of the Advocate General in January, 2020 and stated that a direction has already been issued to all the RTOs and all Registering & Licensing Authorities to make mandatory the Vehicle Location Tracking Device and Panic Buttons in all public service vehicles only from the empanelled manufacturers. It is further stated that the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has already issued a notification dated 28th November, 2016, wherein Vehicle Location Tracking Device and Panic Buttons (VLT) are mandated to be fitted in all the public service vehicles w.e.f. 1st April, 2018.5. It is brought to our notice that for the purpose of installation of VLT Device, only 17 manufacturers have qualified the empanellment criteria on 5th and 6th December, 2019 and issuance of empanelment orders to these 17 manufacturers are under process. The names of said manufacturers are to be displayed before public to get the installation of VLT devices from these manufacturers only. It is stated that the empanellment of manufacturers is a continuous process and any manufacturer, who wants to get empanelled, it is for them to approach the State Government/competent authority to get them empanelled in order to manufacture the VLT Devices.6. We have heard learned counsel for both the parties and gone through the record.7. The aim and object of amendment to Rule 125-H itself is self-explanatory. The amendment was carried out for public convenience and public safety. For the purpose of achieving the aim, it is directed to all the Licensing Authorities to issue registration and fitness certificates only after ensuring the installation of VLT Devices in the vehicles. As already stated, the purpose of installing VLT Device is to ensure the public safety. Further, it shall be the duty of the Government to ensure that the devices are of the prescribed standard. For the purpose of maintaining the standard, a communication has been addressed to all the Regional Transport Officers and also all the Registering and Licensing Authorities to ensure that while processing the vehicles for registration and issue fitness certificate, the vehicles are equipped with the VLT devices from the empanelled manufacturers only. If it is not done, the very purpose of amendment to Rule 125-H of the Motor Vehicle Rules will be defeated.8. Under these circumstances, it was directed by this Court in the writ petition, referred to supra, and also in view of the communication made available to this Court dated nil of January, 2020, that a direction has already been issued to all the Registering and Licensing Authorities of the State to check whether the VLT Devices have been installed from the empanelled manufacturers or not. It is duty of the Government to ensure compliance of the amendment to Rule 125-H in letter and spirit

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. In case it is found that the devices are not installed from empanelled manufacturers, the said vehicles shall not be registered and fitness certificate should not be issued to the said vehicles. However, despite the same, in case any instances are found, then appropriate legal and departmental action should be initiated against the erring officers and also against the Registering and Licensing Authorities of Himachal Pradesh. If any case of installation of VLT Devices from unempanelled manufacturers is found, the owner of the said vehicle should be punished as per the provisions of law.9. With these observations, the writ petitions stand allowed alongwith pending application(s), if any. Copy dasti.