Hyderabad: Even as the plans of Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao to privatise Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (TSRTC) have run into serious legal troubles, the employees of the corporation were pressing ahead with their proposed “March” on Saturday despite police denying permission.

Leaders of all opposition parties met the Hyderabad city police commissioner Anjani Kumar on Friday to seek permission for the “Chalo Tank Bund” (March to Tank Bund) in Hyderabad on Saturday. However the commissioner ruled out permission to any protest program.

Following the refusal, the police have launched a crackdown and started arresting the leaders of RTC JAC leaders in different parts of the state.

The JAC with the support of all the opposition parties had called for massive gathering on the Tank Bund in the heart of Hyderabad as part of its ongoing strike since last 35 days.

JAC convener Ashwaddhama Reddy said that despite police refusing permission, RTC employees will go ahead with their protest. “Police have resorted to illegal raids and arrested of our leaders,” he said.

“There is no need for our workers to be afraid of the police and they should reach Hyderabad from all parts of Telangana,” he said.

State Congress president N. Uttam Kumar Reddy and state BJP Pressident K. Lakshman have separately declared their parties’ support to the protest programme and said that they will take part in Saturday’s March.

In the latest set back to the proposed privatisation of as many as 5500 bus routes in the state, Telangana High Court on Friday issued a stay order against the process. A division bench headed by the Chief Justice Raghavendra Singh Chauhan hearing a public interest litigation against the privatisation asked the government not to take any steps till further hearing on Monday. The court took up the petition filed by Telangana Jana Samiti vice president Vishweshwara Rao challenging the state cabinet’s decision to run private buses on the routes of the TSRTC. The court issued notice to the state government to submit the details of its cabinet decision in the matter. It asked the Advocate General to file a counter affidavit.

This latest setback came close on the heels of the High Court repeatedly admonishing and warning the government officials against giving misleading and false statements to the court. “The officials have filed a false affidavit,” the court observed adding that the court was being taken for a ride. “I have never seen such a thing in 15 years of my service,” the chief justice remarked.

TSRTC has no legal sanctity

KCR government also had serious trouble brewing on another front as the central government dropped a bombshell. Assistant Solicitor General N. Nageshwara Rao, appearing for the centre told the High Court that the Centre had not approved by the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh Road Transport Corporation of the undivided state. Thus the existing TSRTC had no legal sanctity.

This has strengthened the argument of the Joint Action Committee of RTC employees that if TSRTC did not have any legal sanctity, how the state government can privatise it.

The counsel said that the Centre had not approved the bifurcation of APSRTC into two corporations after Andhra Pradesh was divided into two in June 2014 and the TSRTC was functioning purely as a temporary arrangement.