The High Court of Kerala found that contract carries flouted road safety standards and lightening specifications and therefore pose a potential threat to the safety of passengers and other road users.
In the view of increasing accidents involving ‘Sabarimala Pilgrims’ travelling in buses and other contract carriers, the Kerala High court recently issued a slew of directions to ensure road safety and compliance with the provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act,1988.
A Division Bench of Justices Anil K Narendran and PG Ajithkumar found that the contract carriers were being permitted to run on public roads flouting road safety standards and lightening specifications that would disturb the concentration of drivers thereby posing a potential threat to the safety of passengers and other road users.
The judgment was issued on a matter taken up the High Court on its own, based on a report by the Special Commissioner, Sabarimala, regarding the functioning of the safe zone project there.
The project 2021-22 has been operational from the commencement of Mandala Makaravilakku festival for the current year on November 15, 2021 and reportedly has received ₹20 lakh out of an allotted sum of ₹68 lakh.
The report stated that the safe zone project has so far attended to 40 major accidents, 758 major break downs and 536 minor break downs.
The High Court noted from images of one of the accidents that occurred recently that various objects were been placed/hung in front of the windscreen of the contract carriage, causing obstruction to the clear vision of the driver to the front.
The vehicle then rammed into the rear of a tempo traveler that was then pushed forward running over and killing two passengers standing on the road. Both were Sabarimala pilgrims.
The High court went through images of contract carriages that met with major accidents uploaded on YouTube captioned Kerala top 5 bus accident.
Other images showed vehicles fitted with after-market multi- coloured LED/laser/neon lights, flash lights, etc., capable of dazzling the drivers of other vehicles, pedestrians and other road users which resulted in horrifying accident images.
Further, the High Court deemed it necessary to issue several directions to ensure compliance with road safety guidelines by way of this judgment. It directed the Transport Commissioner and the State Police Chief to file an action-taken report on the directions issued by the Court by July 2022.
The High court issued the following directions to the Transport commissioner and the State Police Chief and the various officers under them.
Said officers shall ensure strict enforcement of the Road Safety Policy and also the provisions under the Motor Vehicles (Driving) Regulations, 2017, in terms of the directions contained in the decision of the apex court in S Rajaseekaran Vs. Union of India and they shall also ensure strict enforcement of the prohibition contained in the decision of the apex court in Avishek Goenka Vs. Union of India against tampering with the percentage of visual transmission of light of the safety glass of the windscreen, rear window and side windows of motor vehicles.
In the view of the law laid down in various cases by the Kerala High Court, and since use of such vehicles in Public place, floating the standards in relation to road safety is likely to endanger the safety of the passengers of such vehicles and also other road users, said officers shall prevent the use of contract carriages and other transport vehicles in public places:
- Flouting the safety standards after replacing the prototype approved lights, light- signaling devices and reflectors with after- market Multi-colored LED/laser/neon lights, flash lights etc.
- Without maintaining lighting and light-signaling devices and also retro-reflectors as per the individual specifications, namely, number, position, width, height, length, geometric visibility, orientation, etc. specified in AIS-008 (Installation Requirements of Lighting and Light - signaling devices for motor vehicle having more than three wheels including quadri-cycles, trailer and semi-trailer excluding agricultural tractors);
- With high-power audio systems producing loud sound with rating of several thousand watts PMPO, impairing the hearing of the driver and the passengers and causing distraction to other road users;
- With continuously blinking DJ rotating LED lights, multi-colored LED/laser/neon lights in the passenger compartment, by converting the passenger compartment as a dancing floor, causing distraction to the driver of that vehicle and also to other road users;
- With multi-colored LED/laser/neon lights and also booster amplifiers, equalizer, DJ mixer, etc., with illuminated control panels in the driver cabin, causing glare and reflection of light on the windscreen of the vehicle, endangering the safety of the passengers and other road users
- Mixing of AC and DC power supply for High- Power audio systems DJ mixer, DJ dancing lights violating safety standards, posing potential fire hazard to the passengers of such vehicles.
- Tampering with the percentage of visual transmission of light of the safety glass of windscreen, rear window, and side windows, by pasting stickers, tint films etc.
In view of the provisions under Section 190(2) of the MV Act, any person who drives or causes or allows to be driven, in any public place a motor vehicle, which violates the standards prescribed in relation to road safety, control of noise and air-pollution, shall be punishable for the first offence with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three months, or with fine which may extend to ten thousand rupees or with both and he shall be disqualified for holding license for a period of three months and for any second or subsequent offence with imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months, or with fine which may extend to ten thousand rupees or with both.
In view of the provisions under Section 206(4) of the MV Act, a police officer or other person authorized in this behalf by the State Government shall seize the driving license held by the driver of a motor vehicle who has committed an offence under Section 190 and forward it to the licensing authority for disqualification or revocation proceedings under Section 19.
A transport vehicle governed by AIS-008, which is not installed with lighting and light-signalling devices and also retro-reflectors conforming to the individual specifications, cannot be granted fitness certificate, since such a vehicle cannot be treated as a vehicle which complies with the provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act and the Rules made thereunder, for the purpose of grant of certificate of fitness.
The certificate of fitness granted to such vehicle shall be cancelled by the prescribed authority, in accordance with the provisions under Section 56(4) of the MV Act.
In appropriate cases, the registering authority shall initiate proceedings to suspend or cancel the letter of authority granted or renewed under Rule 63(5) of the Central Motor Vehicles Rules or forfeit security deposit, after affording the holder of letter of authority an opportunity of being heard.