CHENNAI: The Madras High Court has upheld a policy decision of the State government to operate the newly inducted buses on certain selected routes in the State without conductors. After testing the policy decision on the ‘touchstone’, Justice SM Subramaniam said he does not find any serious infirmity, warranting interference of this court under writ jurisdiction.
Thus, the relief, as such, sought for in the writ petition deserves no consideration as the same is devoid of merits, the judge said and dismissed a writ petition from the State Transport Employees Federation, affiliated to the CITU, challenging the decision.
Among other things, the federation contended that Rule 227 of the Tamil Nadu Motor Vehicles Rules makes it mandatory for compulsory posting and presence of a conductor in a stage carriage, in addition to the driver. Conductors should be employed to ensure the safe operation of the buses, safety of passengers and also to avoid any accident and ensure free, safe, alert and attentive driving work of the driver, the petitioner added.
In view of the developing technology and the needs of the nation, the facilities to be provided for the public at large are certainly to be improved and efficient transport facilities are imminent, the judge said. Providing such advanced facilities for the welfare and convenience of the passengers at large, in the field of transport is certainly a constitutional perspective. “Thus, by adopting the principles of constructive interpretation, this court is of the opinion that the vision, object and purpose of the enactment of the Parliament should prevail over the Rules and the procedures framed.
Thus, Rule 227 of the Tamil Nadu Motor Vehicles Rules is repugnant and inconsistent with the spirit of Sections 124 and 178 of the provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 to the extent of the appointment of driver-cum-conductor in certain circumstances, whenever advanced buses are built by the corporations, the judge added.
“Under these circumstances, this Court cannot come to the conclusion that a bus cannot ply without the assistance of a conductor. Even in the present case, the respondent-Corporations have clarified that the post of conductor has not been dispensed with at all. However, they say that a conductor is performing his duties at the starting station and in the ending station. This apart, online bookings of tickets are also provided to the passengers. Thus, online bookings are also fast developing and popular amongst the frequent travellers,” the judge pointed out.
Post of conductors not dispensed with
The judge pointed out that even in the present case, the respondent-Corporations have clarified that the post of conductor has not been dispensed with at all. However, they say that a conductor is performing his duties at the starting station and in the ending station.