Calcutta High Court on Friday expressed surprise that private bus operators on several routes were issuing coupons to passengers instead of small change.
The division bench headed by Chief Justice A.K. Mishra was hearing a public interest litigation moved by Rajib Sarkar of a non-government organisation. “How can private buses issue such coupons?" Mishra asked. The case will be heard after seven days.
The petition states that commuters were facing problems because of the practice of issuing coupons on private buses. “According to bus operators, the coupons can be redeemed only on the same route. This is causing inconvenience,” Sarkar said. He also challenged the legality of the coupon system.
Metro had highlighted on June 25 how coins have become elusive in the city and everyone from bus conductors to shop assistants seems to be coming up with innovative ideas to fight the “change war”.
Kasba resident S. Dass was given a coupon on an air-conditioned bus on his way to Rashbehari Avenue earlier this week.
“But when I wanted to redeem it on another AC bus the next day, the conductor refused saying it could be redeemed on buses on the routes mentioned on it,” he said.
The petitioner made owners of private buses on 59 routes respondents to the case. The chief justice asked him to issue notices to all the respondents so that they could take part in the case.
Bus syndicates plead helplessness. “We were opposed to this idea of coupons. But owners and operators were left with no option because of the coin crisis,” said Deepak Sarkar of the Trinamul-backed Bengal Bus Syndicate.
“A bus owner has to spend Rs 300 every day to buy coins. If the court doesn't want it, the coupons will be withdrawn,” he added.