The Social Justice bench of the Supreme Court comprising of Justices Madan B Lokur and U U Lalit expressed concern over the issue of rising deaths due to road accidents. The bench gave orders and directed the Central Government to organise a meeting of Transport Secretaries of all states with the aim to frame a policy to control the menace of road accidents.
In April 2014, the SC had termed the roads in India as “giant killers” before appointing a three-member committee to monitor the measures taken by the Government at the Centre and in every state to ensure safety of passengers on roads and curbing accidents. The committee comprised of Justice K S Radhakrishnan, former Surface Transport Secretary S Sunder and Ex-Chief Scientist of the Central Road Research Institute.
Earlier in February 2015, the SC appointed committee headed by Justice K S Radhakrishnan had submitted its recommendations report. The main recommendation of the committee was the ban on sale of alcohol on highways (both state and national) to restrain drunk driving.
The committee also directed the states to strengthen law enforcement against drunken driving, over-speeding and other related offences. Most importantly, the states were directed to implement laws on wearing helmets strictly as its failure has resulted in high number of death of two-wheeler and pillion riders.
Another main concern put forward by the committee report was the careless procedure in place for issuance of driver licenses. According to the report, as large numbers of licences are issued by the licensing officer in a day, it implies that there is no careful assessment of the required standards.
The Justice K S Radhakrishnan committee also suggested for audit of road safety to be implemented by states to make certain that safety standards are included in the design, construction and maintenance of roads.
Finally, the committee stressed on the importance of creating awareness among people on road safety rules and for that purpose, it suggested the state governments to frame a scientific policy.
The positive role of the SC in this regard is commendable in light of the fact that India has the unfortunate distinction of having the highest number of road accident fatalities in the world. Now, it is up to the BJP led NDA government to do the rest for the benefit of the public.