BENGALURU: Observing that the condition of streets in the city is far from satisfactory and citizens face hardship due to such roads, the Karnataka High Court on Wednesday made it clear that in the event any citizen suffers loss due to poor maintenance of roads or footpaths by the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), they can claim compensation.
A division bench of Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice Mohammad Nawaz said even after payment of tax, citizens still face risks and suffer injuries. Therefore, “we make it clear that citizens can claim compensation in the event of accidents due to poor condition of roads”, it said.
In its interim directive, the high court also roped in the traffic police to check on the condition of roads and footpaths, and report to the BBMP. “It is the duty of the traffic police to inform the BBMP about potholes and poor condition of roads,” the court said.
Taking note of the fact that the city is not free of potholes even after four years after filing of a public interest petition by Vijayan Menon and three others from Koramangala, the court said there were umpteen number of examples wherein the lives of citizens was exposed to dangers due to accidents arising out of potholes and bad condition of roads — more so for those travelling on two-wheelers.
The petition had sought directions to the civic agency and state to maintain city roads in good condition.
Noting that the Supreme Court had expanded the scope of Article 21, the court said citizens have a right to meaningful and dignified life. “Article 21 does not contemplate mere animals. Good roads are a necessity for meaningful life. Therefore, serious consequences will follow in the event of violation Article 21,” the court warned.
“It is the statutory duty of BBMP to maintain the roads as well as footpaths. If citizens are deprived the use of roads, and bad roads cause accidents, it is an infringement of their rights. It is high time that the citizens are aware of their rights and BBMP officials should be made aware that the public have a right to claim compensation,” the court said.
Onus on Ward Committees
The Ward Committees (WCs) constituted in all 196 wards should effectively supervise work and maintenance of roads by BBMP. They should also monitor digging of roads by agencies like BWSSB, BESCOM, KPTCL, etc, and also the work undertaken by BMRCL in the city. If the roads are not repaired properly, ward committees should inspect those streets.
They should ensure that the various entities have complied with the terms and conditions imposed by BBMP while permitting them to take up road cutting or digging work, and also whether BBMP itself has complied with Section 289 of KMC Act, the court said. It also directed BBMP to inform whether it requires any expert agency to advise on the methods to be adopted for maintenance of roads. Adding to this, the court said that it also the duty of BBMP to check whether the private agencies have taken measures to provide signages to help disabled persons, as per Section 3 of the Persons with Disabilities Act, before taking up road cutting works. The committees should submit a monthly report to the office of the BBMP Commissioner which, in turn, should submit the gist of such reports to the court, the court said. The court adjourned further hearing to September 9, for considering the status report to be submitted by the BBMP.