Bitta Vs. Union of India & Ors.
(Civil) No.510 of 2005]
[With Petition for
Special Leave to Appeal Nos. 24497, 13485, 13630-13631 of 2011 and 1894-1897 of
(Civil) No. 162 of 2010]
J U D G M E N T
Swatanter Kumar, J.
Government of India, on 28th March, 2001, issued a notification under the provisions
of Section 41(6) of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 (for short, `the Act') read with
Rule 50 of the Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989 (for short, `the Rules') for implementation
of the provisions of the Act. This notification sought to introduce a new
scheme regulating issuance and fixation -of High Security Number Plates. In terms
of sub-section (3) of Section 109 of the Act, the Central Government issued an order
dated 22nd August, 2001 which dealt with various facets of manufacture, supply
and fixation of new High Security Registration Plates (hereinafter, `HSRP'). The
Central Government also issued a notification dated 16th October, 2001 for
further implementation of the said order and the HSRP scheme. Various States had
invited tenders in order to implement this scheme.
writ petition being Writ Petition (C) No.41 of 2003 was filed in this Court challenging
the Central Government's power to issue such notification as well as the terms
and conditions of the tender process. In addition to the above writ petition before
this Court, various other writ petitions were filed in different High Courts
raising the same challenge. These writ petitions came to be transferred to this
All the transferred
cases along with Writ Petition (C) No. 41 of 2003 were referred to a larger
Bench of three Judges of this Court, by order of reference dated 26th May, 2005
in 2the case of Association of Registration Plates v. Union of India [(2004) 5 SCC
364], as there was a difference of opinion between the learned Members of the Bench
dealing with the case.
The three Judge Bench
finally disposed of the writ petitions vide its order dated 30th November, 2004
reported in Association of Registration Plates v. Union of India [(2005) 1 SCC 679].
While dismissing the writ petition and the connected matters, this Court rejected
the challenge made to the provisions of the Rules, statutory order issued by the
Central Government and the tender conditions and also issued certain directions
for appropriate implementation of the scheme.
matter did not rest there. Persistent default and non-compliance by the different
States with regard to the statutory Rules, implementation of the schemes as well
as the orders passed by this Court resulted in filing of the present writ petition
being Writ Petition (C) No.510 of 2005. This writ petition also came to be
disposed of by a three Judge Bench of this Court vide its judgment dated 8th May,
2008 titled as Maninderjit Singh Bitta v. Union of India [(2008) 7 SCC 328]. It
will be appropriate to refer to the operative part of the said judgment: "5.
Grievance of the petitioner and the intervener i.e. All India Motor Vehicles
Security Association is that subsequent to the judgment the scheme of HSRP is
yet not implemented in any State except - the State of Meghalaya and other States
are still repeating the processing of the tender.
The prayer therefore is
that the purpose of introducing the scheme should be fulfilled (sic- in) letter
and spirit. The objective being public safety and security there should not be
any lethargy. It is pointed out that most of the States floated the tenders and
thereafter without any reason the process has been slowed down... XXX XXX XXX 9.
Needless to say the scheme appears to have been introduced keeping in view the
public safety and security of the citizens. Let necessary decisions be taken,
if not already taken, within a period of six months from today. While taking
the decision the aspects highlighted by this Court in the earlier decision
needless to say shall be kept in view.
the above judgment of this Court, most of the States have failed to implement the
scheme and the directions contained in the judgments of this Court. The matter remained
pending before this Court for a considerable time and various orders passed by this
Court directing implementation of the scheme were not complied with. On 7th April,
2011, by a detailed order, we had 4taken note of the intervening events and the
fact that a large number of States had not even implemented the scheme and the
directions contained in the judgments of this Court.
Before invoking the
extraordinary jurisdiction of this Court for initiation of contempt proceedings
against the concerned authorities of the respective defaulting States, this Court
considered it necessary to only require the presence of officers in Court and provided
them with another opportunity to ensure compliance of the directions issued by this
Despite assurance of an
effective implementation of the Court's orders, nothing substantial was done
within the time of six weeks, granted by this Court vide its Order dated 7th
April, 2011. Certain Interim Applications (I.A.s) were filed by some of the States
for extension of time and in view of the assurance given in court, this Court had
also dispensed with the personal appearance of the senior officers of those State
Governments. However, with some regret, we noticed that still a few states had not
complied with the directions of this Court and the casual attitude of the State
Government of these States was obvious from their very conduct, inside and
outside the Court. This attitude compelled us to pass a very detailed Order on 30th
August, 2011, classifying the States into different categories.
The first category of
the States had taken steps and even awarded the contract for supplying HSRP. The
second category was of the States/U.T.s --which had not followed the correct
procedure for selection and had approved all private vendors, with `Type
Approval Certificate' (TAC) from the Central Government, to affix the `HSRP' at
their own premises or at the Office of the RTO.
The third category
was of the defaulting States who had filed affidavits, assuring the Court of
taking steps and finalising the tender allotment within the specified dates. On
the basis of the affidavits filed by them, they were granted further time and
were required to file affidavits of compliance. The last category was of the
States which had been persisting with the default and had not taken any effective
steps to comply with the directions of this Court. Thus, vide Order dated 30th August
2011 we had passed the following directions in relation to this category :
"9. From the
record before us, it is clear that there is apparent and intentional default on
the part of the concerned officers of these defaulting States. Consequently, we
issue notice to show cause why proceedings under the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971
be not initiated, if found guilty, why they be not punished in accordance with law
and why exemplary costs, personally recoverable from the erring officers/officials,
be not imposed. Notice shall be issued to: a. Secretary (Transport) of the defaulting
States. b. Commissioner, State Transport Authority of the respective States.
the above orders, a number of States failed to comply with the Court's directions
as well as implement the provisions of the Act. In these circumstances, the
Court was satisfied that there being willful violation of the orders of the Court,
the default tantamount to contempt of Court.
order dated 13th October, 2011, the Court while dealing with I.A. No. 10 of 2011,
besides issuing certain directions, also punished the officers of the defaulting
State by imposing a fine of Rs. 2,000/- each and even imposed exemplary cost of
Rs. 50,000/- on the State of Haryana, since it had failed to take any steps in
furtherance to the previous order.
The matter remained
pending, the States were directed to invite tenders and sign agreements with
the successful bidders in accordance with the Rules and to complete the work of
affixation of HSRP in their entire State/Union Territory. Thereafter, this
Court again passed a very detailed order dealing with the circumstance of each
State on 8th December, 2011. All these orders, i.e., the Orders dated 30th August,
2011, 13th October, 2011 and 8th December, 2011 should be read as integral part
of this final order.
the Order dated 8th December, 2011, we had directed the States to file affidavits
of compliance and undertakings that the implementation of the scheme and the
provisions of the Act, read in conjunction with the orders of this Court, shall
be completed within the specified timeframe. The undertakings were to be filed
within four weeks from 25th November, 2011. Another significant direction
contained in that order was that all the States, except some of the States, i.e.,
States of Assam, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa,
Punjab, Uttarakhand and Union Territory of Lakshadweep, should complete the
implementation of the scheme by 31st March, 2012. States of Himachal Pradesh and
Nagaland were granted further time for completing the implementation of the
scheme in relation to old vehicles only upto 15th June, 2012.
specific orders of the Court, the States of Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Chhattisgarh,
Orissa, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Union Territory of Lakshadweep have failed to
file the requisite affidavits and undertakings within the time granted. The
learned counsel for some of these states justified the non-filing of the
affidavit on different grounds like that the Registry of the Court was closed
for winter vacations on the date when the period of four weeks for filing affidavit
This is factually incorrect
inasmuch as the period of four weeks would expire on 24th December, 2011 as per
our order dated 8th December, 2011. Though the Supreme Court closed for winter vacation
on 18th December, 2011, the Registry was opened till 25th December, 2011.
Therefore, nothing prevented these States/Union Territories from filing affidavits/undertakings
within the stipulated time i.e. 24th December, 2011. Secondly, the process of tenders
had not been finalized by the States for one reason or the other and, therefore,
they considered it unnecessary to file affidavits required by the Court's Order.
We find these excuses
without any substance. It was known to everybody as to when the Court was going
to close and the affidavits could have been filed well in advance to 24th 9December,
2011. Even if the affidavits were not accepted on the re-opening of the Court after
vacations, the counsel should have mentioned the matter before the Court, which
was not done. The affidavits were to be filed stating what steps have been
taken by the respective States and undertaking was to be given for compliance
with the orders of the Court for implementation within the stipulated time. Both
these steps were not dependant upon the completion of the tender process or other
difficulties. The parties could have nevertheless filed applications, which, admittedly
was not done. Therefore, we find that all these States have acted irresponsibly
and with callousness.
should be clearly understood by the hierarchy of the State as well as the learned
counsel appearing for the respective States that the Court's time is spent on
these cases, that too, at the cost of regular cases pending in the Court. The orders
of the Court are expected to be implemented by the officers of the Government
and the learned counsel appearing for the parties without default and with a sense
of urgency. Though, we find no reason to grant further time to these states as
no justifiable ground has been stated before us, however, in the interest of justice
and by way of last opportunity, we extend the period for filing of such
affidavits and/or undertakings by two weeks from today, on pronouncement of this
order. It shall be subject to payment of Rs. 10,000/- as costs by each State to
the Supreme Court Legal Services Committee, costs being conditional.
are States which have, by and large, implemented the scheme and have commenced
the program for fixation of HSRPs in their respective States. These States are Himachal
Pradesh, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, Uttarakhand and Union Territory of
Andaman & Nicobar Islands. We appreciate the effort put by these states and
would direct that they should complete the entire program in all respects before
30th April, 2012 in their respective States.
furtherance to our order dated 8th December, 2011, learned Registrar, Judicial-II,
has submitted his Report pointing out that some of the states have not filed affidavits/undertakings.
They have not taken effective steps for implementation of the scheme, in discharge
of their statutory obligation and in compliance with the orders of the Court as
well. Having perused the Report of the Registrar and the affidavits filed on behalf
of different states, we issue the following directions:-
a. All States which have
invited tenders, have completed the process of finalizing the successful bidder
and issued the Letter of Intent, but have not yet signed agreements with –
b. the successful bidder,
shall sign such agreements within four weeks from today. These States are Assam,
Bihar, Gujarat, Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir, Jharkhand, Punjab, Tripura and Uttar
c. The States which have
so far not even finalized the tender process, they should do so, again, within four
weeks from today. Amongst others these States and Union Territories are Chhattisgarh,
Madhya Pradesh, Chandigarh, Delhi (NCT) and Puducherry.
d. Installation of HSRP
is a statutory command which is not only in the interest of the security of State,
but also serves a much larger public interest. Therefore, it is not only
desirable, but mandatory, for every State to comply with the statutory provisions/orders
of this Court in terms of Article 129 of the Constitution of India, 1950. All states,
therefore, are mandated to fully implement the scheme of fixation of HSRP in
their entire state, positively by 30th April, 2012, in relation to new vehicles
and 15th June, 2012 for old vehicles. We make it clear that they shall not be
e. any further extension
of time for implementation of this direction.
f. The directions contained
in the earlier judgments of this Court and more particularly, the orders dated
30th August, 2011, 13th October, 2011, 8th December, 2011 and this order, should
be implemented within the extended period without default.
g. In the event of default,
concerned Secretary (Transport)/Commissioner, State Transport Authority and/or any
other person or authority responsible for such default shall be liable to be proceeded
against 13 under the provisions of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971.
grant liberty to the petitioner and/or any other person to take out contempt
proceedings, if now there is any non-compliance of the orders of this Court and
the statutory duty imposed upon the authorities concerned with regard to implementation
and completion of the scheme and process of fixation of HSRP, in any
cannot help but to notice the unwarranted conduct and willful disobedience of the
orders of this Court by the State of Andhra Pradesh. This State was found to be
a defaulter even in the earlier orders passed by this Court. In furtherance to
our order dated 8th December, 2011, an affidavit on behalf of the State was
filed on 2nd January, 2012, in this Court. This affidavit has been filed by the
Secretary (Transport), Government of Andhra Pradesh.
This State had not even
initiated any action or process to implement the scheme, as directed under the
orders of this Court. To shirk its responsibility, it has been stated in this affidavit
that after passing of the order of this Court dated 8th December, 2011, the Government
of Andhra Pradesh reviewed the issue and issued an amendment to its original Government
Order dated 8th March, 2011.
Vide its Government
Order dated 24th December, 2011, the Government entrusted the work of implementation
of the HSRP in the State of Andhra Pradesh to the Andhra Pradesh State Road
Transport Corporation. Strangely, the affidavit further claims that the scheme of
HSRP is being implemented according to the direction issued by this Court. Still
another affidavit was filed by the Transport Commissioner of the State of Andhra
Pradesh on identical lines.
affidavits or even the affidavits filed earlier on behalf of the State of
Andhra Pradesh do not even remotely suggest that any steps had been taken by
the State for implementing the scheme of HSRP in compliance with the directions
issued by this Court. We are unable to appreciate this attitude of the State administration,
with which they have persisted, despite specific directions contained in the Order
dated 30th August, 2011 and even in the earlier orders passed by this Court. Their
conduct and behaviour has undermined the authority of this Court as well as the
dignity of justice.
we issue notice to show cause to Smt. D. Lakshmi Parthasarathy, Principal Secretary
(Transport, Roads and Building Department), Andhra Pradesh and Shri Hiralal
Samaria, Transport Commissioner, State of Andhra Pradesh to show cause, why they
be not punished in accordance with the provisions of the Contempt of Courts Act
for violating the orders of this Court.
Registry shall maintain a separate file for the contempt proceedings initiated against
these defaulting officers of Andhra Pradesh.
State of West Bengal filed its affidavit (dated 12th May, 2011) of partial implementation
in two districts only, on 24th May, 2011. Thereafter, no affidavit has been
filed on behalf of this State. Despite orders of the Court dated 30th August, 2011,
13th September, 2011, 8th December, 2011 and this order, they have failed to file
affidavit placing correct facts in regard to the further implementation of the scheme
before this Court. In these circumstances and by way of last opportunity, we permit
the Secretary (Transport)/ Commissioner, State Transport Authority, 16West
Bengal to file their respective affidavits within two weeks from today subject
to payment of Rs.10,000/- as costs.
we have imposed costs for non-compliance with the directions of this Court, the
same shall be paid by the State Governments at the first instance. We are of the
considered view that the present cases are not the ones where the Court should
permit the public exchequer to be burdened by payment of costs. --In fact, the
costs paid should be recovered from erring or defaulting officers/officials.
State of Arunachal Pradesh is again a State which has neither filed undertaking
nor affidavit in terms of the orders of this Court. The learned counsel appearing
for the State, however, submitted that they have already started the process
and would be able to complete the implementation of the scheme within three
months. According to the learned counsel, their predicament was that the successful
tenderers had refused to deposit the requisite security amount as contemplated
under the terms and conditions of the contract. Be that as it may, we have
already granted extension of time, and we therefore, direct the State of Arunachal
Pradesh now to implement the orders of this Court without fail within the time
granted and subject to payment of Rs. 10,000/- as costs.
make it clear that this order shall dispose of the writ petition.
the files that had been summoned by this Court for ensuring the complete implementation
of the scheme shall now revert back to the respective courts for their disposal
in accordance -with law. Some of the learned counsel appearing for the parties
before us had argued that because of certain directions passed by the Courts
concerned in these ongoing cases, the concerned States may not be able to finally
implement the scheme within the time bound schedule. We request the concerned High
Courts to deal with such matters on priority keeping in view the afore-stated
directions and orders. We further give liberty to the parties whose petitions are
pending before this Court to make a mention before the concerned Bench for
expeditious disposal. We have no doubt in our mind that such request of the
petitioners would be examined on its own merits by the Hon'ble Judges in the larger
interest of national security.
all aspects of this matter stand finally concluded vide our orders dated 30th August,
2011, 13th October, 2011 and 8th December, 2011 and ultimately by this Order,
we see no reason to keep this petition pending on the Board of this Court.
all I.A.S, contempt petitions in Writ Petition No. 510 of 2005 and Writ
Petition (Civil) No. 510 of 2005 stand finally disposed of with no order as to
SLP(C) No. 24497 of 2011, SLP(C) No. 13485 of 2011, Writ Petition (Civil) No. 162
of 2010, SLP(C) Nos. 13630-13631 of 2011 and SLP(C) No. 1894-1897 of 2012 shall
now revert back to their respective Courts. 25. Application for impleadment as respondent
filed by Ms. Shimnit Utsch India Pvt. Ltd., one of the successful tenderers in
the matter relating to State of Maharashtra stands dismissed in view of this