The Madurai Bench of Madras High Court today restrained omni (private) bus operators in Tamil Nadu from collecting higher fare during the coming festival season. The court passed the interim order on suo motu proceedings initiated by it based on media reports that passengers were being fleeced in view of expected heavy rush on account of Deepavali festival falling on October 29. A division bench ordered that the bus operators should charge the same fares, which they had been collecting since last year, from October 27 to 31. The bench earlier observed that the bus operators should not be allowed to charge even a single paise as extra fare using the festival season rush. It wondered why state government was not fixing the omni bus fares as in other states. The counsel for the bus operators submitted that there was provision in rules to prevent collection of extra fares during festival season.
He, however, said the fares were fixed according to the diesel price. The omni buses were already suffering loss, and they proposed to charge only 10 per cent extra during the festival season and it had been conveyed to the concerned officials. At this the court wondered why operators were in the business if they were incurring loss. The government pleader submitted that no meeting was held between the omni bus operators association and officials. Transport department officials said omni buses were operated on contract basis and fares fixed according to luxury provided.
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