Patna, Aug. 17: The high court today stayed the enforcement of Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act (PDPP), 1984, which allows prosecution of persons plying overloaded vehicles on roads.
A division bench comprising justices Shiva Kirti Singh and Shivaji Pandey passed the direction while hearing an appeal filed by truck owner Vikas Kumar Singh challenging the provision for initiating prosecution under the act for trucks or other vehicles carrying load beyond the permissible limit to protect the roads.
The bench, while granting the interim stay, admitted the petition and issued a notice on Bihar Truck Owners’ Association. The court also asked the parties to complete the necessary formalities within four months and put up the matter for hearing.
The court suggested the government to use the provisions of Motor Vehicles Act.
The petitioner, however, submitted that the initiation of proceedings under the Motor Vehicles Act and the PDPP Act would amount to double jeopardy causing unreasonable and arbitrary restriction on transportation, which is an established trade of the petitioner.
The authorities have conferred unbridled power upon themselves to prosecute the allegedly overloaded vehicles without instruction to determine the damage before initiating any prosecution, the petitioner added.
During a brief hearing, the court was critical of the government’s stand to defend the act stating that it was intended to protect roads, which might worsen because of the plying of overloaded vehicles.
“It is beyond one’s comprehension how the condition of a road will deteriorate with the plying of overloaded vehicles. You (the government) are permitting 20-wheeler vehicles and if six-wheeler or 10-wheeler vehicles cross the permissible load limit by another tonne or so, how is it going to damage the quality of roads? Nowadays, national highways are being built to cater to high-capacity vehicles,” the bench observed, while hearing the petition.
Jawahar Prasad Karn, the additional advocate-general IV, representing the government, submitted that the PDPP Act has been implemented to prevent roads from getting damaged by the overloaded vehicles.
The act has been implemented to punish offenders who ply any freight or passenger vehicle — private or commercial — which cause damage to public property, including roads, disrupting the transport system of the state, Karn added.
The secretary-cum-commissioner of the state transport department had issued a letter dated August 10, 2010, which directed the district magistrates of the state to initiate prosecution of persons found plying overloaded vehicles on the roads of the state, the additional advocate-general said.