The Delhi High Court will hear the petition seeking directions against the Delhi government’s decision to permit plying of Delhi Metro and Intra-States buses (DTC as well as cluster buses) with 100 percent seating capacity and prohibiting standing of passengers during the Covid-19 pandemic amid the fear of third wave of Coronavirus, on August 17.
The matter was listed before the bench of Justice Rekha Palli on August 12, 2021, when the Court passed directions to list the matter before another bench, which is seized of similar pending issues.
“Keeping in view the fact that Division Bench- II already dealing with cases relating to the management of COVID-19 in the NCT of Delhi, list the present petition before Division Bench-II, subject to orders of Hon’ble the Chief Justice, on August 17, 2021,” said Justice Palli.
The Court was hearing the plea to quash paragraphs 2(viii) and 2(ix) of Annexure A of order dated July 24, 2021 passed by the Delhi Government which permitted the Delhi Metro, DTC Buses and Cluster Buses to operate with 100 percent seating capacity.
Paragraphs 2(viii) and 2(ix) of Annexure A of order dated July 24, 2021 passed by the Delhi Government read as follows:
2(viii): Transportation by Delhi Metro shall be allowed with 100% seating capacity of coach. No standing Passengers shall be allowed.
2(ix): Intra-State (within NCT of Delhi) movement of buses (DTC as well as cluster) shall be permitted with 100% seating capacity. In case of buses, boarding shall be allowed only from the rear door while deboarding shall be allowed only from the front door. No standing passenger shall be allowed.
The writ petition filed by the petitioner in person, Advocate S.B Tripathi states that after the first phase of Covid-19, public transport including Delhi Metro, DTC buses and Cluster Buses were permitted to function with 50% seating capacity, allowing the passengers to sit alternatively and maintain social distancing. The Delhi Government had also allowed standing passengers with the place of standing earmarked.
According to the petition, the second wave of Covid-19 was very destructive and resulted in loss of lives of numerous people. Experts and Doctors are of the opinion that the third wave of Covid-19 is just around the corner, moreover, Covid-19 virus is has not yet disappeared, only the rate of infections has dropped for the time being.
The petition avers that with the Delhi Government allowing 100% seating capacity in Delhi Metro, DTC Buses and Cluster Buses, the passengers would have to sit next to each other, making maintaining social distancing among passengers not feasible. This has increased the risk of Covid-19 infections among passengers of public transport, accelerating the onset of the third wave of infections.
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It submits that the petitioner has been a witness to the appalling state of public transport, Delhi Metro along with DTC and Cluster Buses are running overcrowded and the passengers are not able to follow social distancing.
Mr. Tripathi in the petition concedes that even though the modes of public transport were running overcrowded before passing of the impugned order, the passengers that wanted to maintain social distancing had the remedy of contacting the appropriate authority to ensure social distancing is followed.