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Sunday, Jun 30, 2002

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Motor tariffs face glitch

Sarbajeet K. Sen

NEW DELHI, June 29

IN what might just about spoil the party for insurance companies, the implementation of the much-awaited motor tariff hikes could be delayed on account of a pending case at the High Court of Calcutta.

With the weekend intervening before the new rates set to come into effect from July 1, the general insurance industry's Tariff Advisory Committee (TAC) has been unable to vacate an injunction issued by the High Court earlier restraining it from implementing the enhanced tariffs. The injunction had been obtained from the court by a transporters' body, Asansol Mini Bus Association.

"There was a hearing on the case today which remained inconclusive. Without vacating the stay on the proposed hikes the TAC would not be able to go ahead with the hikes from July 1,'' the Secretary-General, All India Motor Transport Congress (AIMTC), Mr J.M. Saksena, told Business Line on Friday. The Asansol association is a member of the apex AIMTC.

Mr Saksena said Friday's hearing at the High Court, in fact, was on a contempt petition filed by the association.

It had alleged that some insurance companies in West Bengal had begun issuing circulars reminding their offices of the date of the implementation of the new tariffs without obtaining an order lifting the stay granted by the High Court.

When contacted, highly-placed officials of the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA), under which the TAC functions, said that efforts were on to get the stay vacated. However, sources said there was no further development on Saturday.

The Asansol association had obtained the stay on the enhanced rates against a writ filed by it opposing the proposed hikes. The association had filed the writ on grounds that the TAC had been unable to provide documents to support the case for a revision of tariffs when sought by the mini bus owners' body at a public hearing conducted during the run-up to the finalisation of the new rates.

The TAC has, however, now finalised the new motor tariffs after extensive discussions at the field level and on the basis of the report of the Ansari Committee and has put them on its Web site.

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