The Kerala High Court held that the head of the educational institution would be held liable if any tourist bus, which does not meet the safety standards and standards prescribed about control of noise, is used in any public place for carrying students from that educational institution.
The division bench also said the entry of any contract carriage or other motor vehicles violating the safety standards or noise control norms or those with unauthorized alterations shall not be permitted in the premises of any educational institution in the State for any purpose including exhibition or auto show. This was seen in the case of Suo Moto Vs. State of Kerala (SSCR NO. 20 OF 2021) and the case was presided over by Honourable Mr. Justice Anil K Narendran and Honourable Mr. Justice P G Ajithkumar.
FACTS OF THE CASE
In a pending matter related to road safety, the court last week took Suo Motu note of the Wadakkanchery bus accident in which a contract carriage carrying students, who were on a study tour, met with an accident and hit the rear of a KSRTC bus. Nine people including five students and one teacher were killed in the accident.
After pursuing the accident investigation report of the case, the court said the contract carriage vehicle carrying the students was fitted with unauthorized lights, speakers, and window curtains. “The driver cabin was fitted with continuously blinking DJ rotating LED lights, multi-colored LED/laser/neon lights in the passenger compartment, converting the passenger compartment into a dancing floor, causing a distraction to the driver of that vehicle and also to other road users,”
The court directed the Enforcement Officers of the Motor Vehicles Department and the State Police to take strict action against the contract carriers which violate the laws and prescribed no suspended fitness certificate for such vehicles, mere removal of unauthorized fittings not enough; driving license also to be suspended
The court added that the procedure of permitting the use of such vehicles after an interception, with a direction to produce the vehicle for inspection within one week after removing such unauthorized fittings, cannot be permitted to continue as the same is a flagrant violation of the statutory provisions.
“A mere removal of unauthorized fittings in a contract carriage, without completely removing the additional wiring and other alterations made in the bus body, passenger compartment, and driver cabin cannot make that vehicle as one, which complies with the provisions under the Motor Vehicles Act and the Rules and Regulations made thereunder for the purpose of grant of Certificate of Fitness,” said the court.
The Court also said the bus body, passenger compartment, and driver cabin of a contract carriage must be maintained per the statutory requirements in the Central Motor Vehicles Rules and Kerala Motor Vehicles Rules.
The Fitness Certificate of contract carriages has to be suspended with immediate effect for a period of three months if the contract carriage is found to be flouting the statutory requirements under the Motor Vehicles Rules, said the court, adding that the owner of the vehicle can be directed to make the changes as per the requirements of the law within that period.
The Court also said the driving license of drivers who drive such contract carriage in public places has to be suspended for a period of three months.
The Court has also said that stringent action ought to be taken against owners and drivers of contract carriages or other transport vehicles used in public places after tampering with speed
Further, the Court has ordered that any contract carriage or other transport vehicles used in public places flouting the safety standards should be dealt with appropriately by initiating a prosecution, and such cars should be produced before the Jurisdictional Magistrate Court color photographs and video of the bus body, passenger compartment, driver cabin and also luggage compartment
The Court also has directed the Transport Commissioner and the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways to take necessary steps to ensure that videos promoting the rash use of motor vehicles are not being uploaded on ‘YouTube’ and other online platforms.
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JUDGEMENT REVIEWED BY ABHINAV SHUKLA.