2 Oct 2023 11:00 AM GMT
The Telangana High Court has upheld that where the accident happens due to a passenger trying to catch a moving bus, the accident cannot be attributed to the driver, even where inquiry concludes that there was a lack of anticipation and negligent driving on the part of the driver.Justice Nagesh Bheemapaka thus held that the driver could not be charge sheeted for such an accident. “In view...
The Telangana High Court has upheld that where the accident happens due to a passenger trying to catch a moving bus, the accident cannot be attributed to the driver, even where inquiry concludes that there was a lack of anticipation and negligent driving on the part of the driver.
Justice Nagesh Bheemapaka thus held that the driver could not be charge sheeted for such an accident.
“In view of the above evidence and also in view of the Circular issued by the Corporation, though the Enquiry Officer held the driver responsible for not anticipating the movement of the lady in question, this Court is of the opinion that the petitioner driver shall not be charge-sheeted.”
The judgment was passed in a writ challenging the proceedings dated 27.01.2006 in which the petitioner, an employee, was penalised with a two-year reduction in pay by two incremental stages with permanent implications for future increments.
The petitioner is a bus driver appointed by the Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (APSRTC) (now TSRTC), since 1991. He had been suspended on 08.02.2004 due to a fatal accident caused by allegedly negligent driving.
He submitted an explanation stating that he was not at fault and that the accident occurred when a pedestrian came into contact with the bus while he was making a 'U-turn at Women’s College. Despite his defence, an inquiry was conducted, and the penalty was imposed on 27.01.2006.
The Corporation argued that the petitioner's negligent driving caused a fatal accident, constituting misconduct under Regulation 28(ix)(b) of APSRTC Employees’ (Conduct) Regulations, 1963. It was also submitted that the petitioner was given due opportunity to present his case, and hence no procedural irregularity could be established on the part of the corporation while arriving at the quantum of punishment.
In response, the petitioner contended that he was not at fault, and the deceased pedestrian had come into contact with the bus herself. The petitioner argued that the Enquiry Officer had conducted a biased inquiry and that he was penalised for the fault of others, which he claimed was against the principles of natural justice.
He also pointed to a Corporation circular stating that drivers should not be charge-sheeted when accidents occur due to passengers boarding or alighting at unauthorized places or in moving buses.
The Court considered the evidence, including the preliminary enquiry report, which suggested that the accident occurred because the lady pedestrian was ambiguously trying to catch a bus and may have been pushed by the crowd. It also noted the circular issued by the Corporation.
In light of the evidence and the Corporation's circular, the Court concluded that the petitioner should not have been charge-sheeted. Upholding the circular, the Bench allowed the petition.
Counsel for petitioner: V. Narsimha Goud
Counsel for respondent: Thoom Srinivas (SC for TSRTC)
Case Title: L. Shankar vs. APSRTC
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