In what comes as a major relief to the striking employees of the Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (TSRTC), the Centre on Thursday informed the High Court that the corporation had no legal sanctity as an institution.
Assistant Solicitor General N Rajeshwar Rao informed the court that the Centre had not officially approved the formation of the TSRTC, which was carved out of the Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (APSRTC), after the state's bifurcation in 2014.
A division bench comprising Chief Justice Raghvendra Singh Chauhan and Justice A Abhishek Reddy was hearing a petition, which challenged the Telangana government's move to privatise 5,100 bus routes in the state.
While the Telangana government claimed that the TSRTC was created as per provisions in both the RTC Act and the AP Reorganisation Act, 2014, the Centre argued that the corporation would only have legal sanctity under the Union Government's Transport Act.
With this, the ruling TRS government may not be able to go ahead with its plan to privatise bus routes.
Nearly 48,000 employees of the TSRTC have been on strike for more than a month, demanding better wages, regulated working hours and a merger of the corporation into the state government. They also pointed out that they had not been paid their salaries since September. The TSRTC is presently a state-owned public utility which functions autonomously.
The state government has been unwavering in its response with Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao even threatening employees, that all bus routes in the state would be privatised if they refused to call off the strike.
The Joint Action Committee (JAC) is now planning to hold a 'Million March' protest on Tank Bund in Hyderabad on October 9.