CHENNAI: In a major move to fix accountability in cases of road accidents, the Madras High Court on Monday said the NHAI would be held liable to pay compensation to victims of accidents caused by bad roads. The Division Bench then directed the highways authority to ensure roads are re-laid strictly as per standards fixed by the Indian Roads Congress.
The Division Bench comprising Justices M Sathyanarayanan and R Hemalatha was hearing a suo motu public interest litigation petition on bad condition and improper maintenance of National Highways-4 between Maduravoyal and Wallajahpet. Assistant Solicitor General G Karthikeyan, on behalf of NHAI, filed a compliance report on measures being taken to improve the highway stretch. When the Bench raised a question over “belated/ tardy progress on the part of the contractors”, Karthikeyan submitted that NHAI has to approach very many agencies for getting very many clearances from the State government.
He sought a direction from the court to put in place a single window agency comprising various stakeholders so that all clearances can be obtained without any loss of time. The Bench then observed that it was time a single window agency was created by the government to help NHAI get clearances from various stake holders.
‘NHAI may be held responsible’
The Bench then observed that it was high time a single window agency was created by the government to help NHAI get clearances from various stake holders and accordingly impleaded the Chief Secretary, Government of TN, as respondent to the suo motu plea and issued notice to Additional Government Pleader R Vijayakumar on behalf of the Chief Secretary. The court also made it clear, if any accident takes place on account of the bad condition of roads. The NHAI may also be held liable and responsible for compensating the accident victim. The Advocate Commissioner, who was appointed by the court, submitted that patch work is being done on the highway stretch.
If any accident takes place on account of the bad condition of roads or signage, NHAI may also be held liable and responsible for compensating the accident victim, said Madras High Court.