The Kerala High Court Friday said that the recklessness on the wheel will not be tolerated and directed the Transport Commissioner to ensure strict enforcement of law on the roads to send a stern message to all the drivers that they will be held accountable for their actions.
Justice Devan Ramachandran in a warning to the drivers said:
"The unmistakable caution to a driver, that recklessness on the wheel and the proclivity to violate law, will never be tolerated and will be dealt with the most stringent response in law ... is to be fostered and inculcated, because otherwise, nothing can change."
In wake of the Vadakkanchery bus accident, the court on Thursday had sought the presence of the Transport Commissioner before it in a pending matter related to the condition of roads in the state. It had blamed lack of strict enforcement of law for the recurrence of accidents.
On Friday, the Transport Commissioner S Sreejith IPS - who is also the Road Safety Commissioner, appeared before the court and informed it about various issues faced by the department. However, the court was quick to point out that no "excuse" can ever justify the loss of life on the streets or pacify the tears of the families, who lose their relatives in the accidents.
Taking note of the suo motu proceeding initiated by a division bench, which is dealing with the issue of the violations by vehicles from the angle of the Motor Vehicles Act and Rules, the Single Bench clarified that any order passed by it would only be complementary to the orders passed by the Division Bench and to supplement it.
After all, all of us are in together to make sure that no one loses his or her life in future, on account of a blood bath on the streets, caused by pure recklessness or carelessness, Justice Ramachandran remarked.
During the hearing, the Transport Commissioner informed the Court that even though a large number of violations are being registered on a daily basis, it is not creating tangible results on the ground. Sreejith said even the offenders seem to be aware of the fact that consequences are trifle. The Transport Commissioner also informed the Court that through the efforts of his Department, the fatalities from accidents have been brought down to 13.7 per cent. He also told the court that the Motor Vehicles Department has initiated a project called 'Safe Campus' for inculcating the rules and best practices relating to road traffic in school children. The curriculum for it is awaiting a final nod from the Government, the court was told.
However, the Court remarked that it is common knowledge that when accidents happen, initiatives and proposals are brought to life with vigour, only to be forgotten after a while. "This Court is firm in its resolve that the children who lost their lives in the accident yesterday (06.10.2022) should never be forgotten, nor the anst of their loved ones allowed to pale into oblivion," it added.
The court further said an accident of the nature that happened on Thursday should never happen again and for that action is paramount and "not merely excuses or explanations".
The Counsels appearing for the parties in the cases, as well as various members of the bar, recounted their experiences on the streets during the hearing. Justice Ramachandran observed that this road culture of reckless driving ought to be changed, and it can only be done through a clarion call to be made by the Authorities who are vested with the powers under the statutory Scheme.
"This Court, therefore, expects the Transport Commissioner to act in those lines and direct that the officers in his command and charge be entrusted with the task of enforcement strongly, strictly and decisively, to send a strict message to all the drivers that recklessness and carelessness will not be tolerated and that they will be accountable to law to the fullest warrant possible," said the bench in its order
The Court directed the Transport Commissioner to issue necessary instructions, circulars, and orders in this regard to all the officers under his command through electronic and other means to spur immediate action.
The matter has been now posted for October 28 for further consideration. In the meantime, the Court has directed the Transportation Commissioner to submit suggestions with respect to the manner in which the roads and streets can be made safer.
Case Title: Pauly Vadakkan v. Corporation of Cochin