KOCHI: The Kerala High Court on Thursday directed the police and transport authorities to take necessary steps to ensure that all buses, including the ones operating as town and city services, are fitted with doors as mandated by the state motor vehicles rules. The court noted that the amendment in the rules was to ensure safe and secure public transport facility to passengers, by reducing any chances of untoward incidents.
The court also ordered that appropriate proceedings shall be initiated against the owners/permit holders and also the employees of the stage carriages plying with doors either removed or tied to the body of the bus. Action should be taken against the employees for opening or closing the doors while the stage carriage is in motion, the court directed.
Justice Anil K Narendran issued the order while dismissing a batch of writ petitions filed by the Kerala Bus Transporters Associations and other associations of private bus operators. The petitioners had challenged the amendments to Rule 280 of the Kerala Motor Vehicles Rules which insisted on fitting doors to stage carriages operating as city and town services.
According to the state government, the amendment is being brought in the interest of the public at large, with a view to ensuring safe and secure public transport facility to passengers, by reducing the chances of untoward incidents. In 2010, a Division Bench of the High Court had directed the government to take immediate steps for amending the relevant rules so that stage carriages are operated with doors and with employees to man the doors.
The government also submitted that lack of shutters in city and town service was causing accidents. The court observed that the provisions under the Kerala Motor Vehicles (Second Amendment) Rules- 2016 are intended to ensure safe and convenient public transport facility to the passengers by reducing chances of untoward incidents.
The provisions are in consonance with and in furtherance of the objective and purpose of the MV Act and the rules made thereunder are only reasonable restrictions, which can legitimately be imposed in the interests of the general public.
The right under Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution to trade and commerce cannot be extended or stretched to encompass a fundamental right to operate their stage carriages unfettered by any conditions or restrictions in total disregard to security, safety and convenience of the passengers and the public at large, the court observed.