Hyderabad: Telangana High Court charged the state government and TSRTC management for purposefully filing vague affidavits and making false statements relating to reimbursement amounts and amounts payable by the GHMC to TSRTC. The Court also charged that the RTC is systematically pulled into a cesspool.
The Division Bench comprising of Chief Justice Raghavendra Singh Chauhan and Justice A Abhishek Reddy made these serious remarks on Friday during the hearing on PIL petitions on the ongoing RTC strike. The Bench had previously pulled up the Principal Secretary for Finance for giving a vague affidavit relating to the amounts owed by the government to RTC in terms of reimbursements and under other heads. It directed the Incharge Managing Director of the Corporation to file an affidavit in this regard and be present in the Court personally during the hearing.
Accordingly, the Incharge MD submitted an affidavit to the Court during the hearing on Friday. Perusing the affidavit, the Chief Justice noticed several anomalies and contradictions. It was stated in the affidavit that Rs 645 crore was the reimbursement amount for 2018 and that the entire amount has been released. The GOs annexed with the affidavit showed the amounts given by the government to the Corporation as “loan”.
When the Chief Justice asked the Incharge MD, Sunil Sharma, to explain, he said that they were not loans, but grants by the government and the Corporation had much leeway to utilise these funds. The Chief Justice was livid, as he said, “Everyone knows the difference between the words loan and grant. Why are you misusing the English language? If it was a grant, it should have been stated so in the GO. False statements are being given on oath. The last thing we expect from senior IAS officers is to pull wool over the eyes of a judge.”
The Bench also took umbrage at the letter given by the GHMC Commissioner on October 30, 2019. The letter stated that the Corporation is not obligated to pay amounts to TSRTC for its losses in running the Hyderabad City operations. As per the GHMC Act, the government decides how much the Corporation can pay to the RTC. The Bench also asked if GHMC is not required to pay under the Act, then why did it pay for 2015, 2016 and 2017. How can the Commissioner give such a statement, questioned the Bench. The judges asked the Incharge MD, that if the Corporation is incurring losses in running buses in Hyderabad, then why are they still running them. To which he replied it was in public interest to run them, underscoring the point being made by the unions requesting the government’s support to the Corporation.
Noting that both senior IAS officers have purposefully filed vague affidavits before the Court, the Bench stated that there would be consequences. It said that senior IAS officers are expected to be honest in their dealings with the Court.
Senior Counsel D Prakash Reddy brought to the notice of the Bench a presentation paper submitted by TSRTC management to Transport Minister P Ajay Kumar after he took his oath. The paper detailed figures on how much the government owes the Corporation. Prakash earlier said that they thought it was around Rs 1,100 crore, but the document clearly shows that the government owes nearly Rs 2,277 crore to TSRTC.
The Bench questioned the Incharge MD about this document and pointedly asked, “Which is true — the one you fed to the minister or the one you are feeding us today?” When the Incharge MD, in his defence, said that the management had wrongly presumed the amounts as reimbursable, the Chief Justice was angered and asked him not to feign innocence. The judge further asked the MD whether he was misleading the minister. The case was adjourned to November 7 for further hearing.