Powers of Licensing Authority to Suspend or Revoke Driving Licence

The Kerala High Court on June 25, 2012 in Peethambaran T.R. Vs. Additional Licensing Authority, North Paravoor held that the right to earn a livelihood by working as the driver of a transport vehicle is regulated by the provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act and the Rules therein.

Licensing Authority

Justice K. Surendra Mohan observed that the licence granted to the petitioner does not confer on him a right to drive his vehicle dangerously or carelessly or in such a way as to cause injury, damage or loss of life to another.

“Any such conduct on his part amounts to violation of the terms and conditions subject to which he has been licenced to drive a motor vehicle. Therefore, for violation of the terms of the licence, the licensing authority is within its powers to suspend and if necessary, revoke the licence that has been granted. When such action is initiated, it is not open to the licencee to contend that such action has deprived him of his means of livelihood.”

the judgment said.

While dismissing the writ petition the High Court held that the suspension of a licence under Section 19 is not dependent upon a conviction of the offender. The same can be invoked immediately upon commission of the offence where the licensing authority is satisfied of the existence of the other conditions stipulated by the provision. For the above reasons, the impugned action would not constitute double jeopardy as contended.

The device of licensing itself operates by prohibiting a particular act and then permitting the said act subject to the terms of a licence that is issued only to persons who are considered to be competent to be granted such licence. Therefore, in the case of driving also, there is a general prohibition in force, which is relaxed in the case of persons who are granted a licence, by permitting them to drive provided they abide by the conditions of the licence.

Since the licensing authority is satisfied that the petitioner has violated the terms of the licence, it is certainly within the powers of the said authority to suspend the licence.

The Court noticed that the suspension is only for a period of one year. Such suspension is only reasonable. It is open to the petitioner to engage himself in any other avocation to earn a livelihood.

The learned counsel for the petitioner contends that the impugned action has deprived the petitioner of his means to earn his livelihood. Since the petitioner’s licence has been suspended, it is submitted that he is not able to work as a driver for the purpose of earning a livelihood.

The contention of the learned counsel for the petitioner is that an order in the nature of Ext.P1 can be issued only in the case of a habitual criminal or a habitual offender. The petitioner being a person who has not been involved in any accident previously, is not liable to be proceeded with under Section 19. Though various contingencies are enumerated in Section 19 specifying the situations in which the power under the said provision can be invoked, the petitioner’s case does not fall into any of the situations envisaged by the provisions.

The petitioner is a person who has used his motor vehicle in the commission of a cognizable offence, namely, to cause the death of a human being. Therefore, wherever the licensing authority is satisfied that the petitioner has used a motor vehicle in the commission of a cognizable offence, he is entitled to proceed against the petitioner under Section 19 of the Act. It cannot therefore be said that initiation of action under the said provision is unwarranted or uncalled for.

For the above reasons, the Court not satisfied that the petitioner is entitled to any of the reliefs claimed in this Writ Petition. This Writ Petition is therefore dismissed.