‘Govt. affidavit on support to RTC vague’

High Court asks TSRTC to state if it agrees with the claim of being overpaid

Observing that parts of the affidavit filed by State government’s Principal Finance Secretary were ‘misplaced and vague’, the Telangana High Court on Tuesday instructed the TSRTC Managing Director in-charge to file an affidavit over the government’s claims that it overpaid the corporation.

Posting the hearing on the ongoing strike by RTC workers for Friday, the HC set Thursday as the deadline for presenting the affidavit and directed the MD to be present in the court during next hearing. The RTC officers knowing the nitty-gritty of its finances should also be present for eliciting information, the HC said.

Earlier, the division bench comprising Chief Justice Raghvendra Singh Chauhan and Justice A. Abhishek Reddy sought to know why the RTC MD was not present, when the crucial issue of RTC strike was under adjudication by the HC. The bench declined to give more time as sought by the TSRTC standing counsel who said the MD had other commitments on Friday.

“Those cannot be better commitments than the present issue. Why not on Friday? If you ask the officials, they can get the details within short time,” the CJ said. Expressing displeasure over the affidavit submitted by Principal Finance Secretary K. Ramakrishna Rao, the CJ remarked that the content was purposefully misleading. The bench said the top bureaucrat failed to clearly answer the queries raised by it the previous day on the specific claims made by the State government that it paid more than ₹3,000 crore to the corporation.

Financial jugglery

“The officer did a bit of financial jugglery. He should have been honest in answering our queries,” the CJ remarked. Pointing out specific paragraphs of the affidavit, the bench said sometimes the bureaucrats try to be too clever. The affidavit was unclear and seemed to be saying that the questions raised by the HC were “perhaps true but may be false”. The Secretary probably wanted the HC to ‘draw clear conclusion from vague statement’, the bench said.

Except saying that the State government had paid budgetary support to the tune of ₹4,253.36 crore to RTC, the Secretary did not specifically explain if this included the reimbursements related to concessions. In this ‘budgetary support, the government included ₹853 crore for which it stood as guarantor. Being a guarantor did not mean payment of money, the HC said.

In this backdrop, the TSRTC MD should explain the corporation stand on the government claims. The MD should also clarify if the GHMC had paid ₹335 crore to the corporation and, if so, during which period. The corporation, in the affidavit, should state if it agreed with the claim that State had overpaid it, the bench said.

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