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Kerala High Court directs strict action against violators of road safety policy

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The Kerala High Court has directed the state police and the Enforcement officials to take strict action against all those people, who flout the guidelines of Road Safety Policy, especially by overloading their vehicles or using a government nameplate without authorisation.

Justice Anil K. Narendran issued the directions on February 9 in a contempt case that was initiated by the All Kerala Truck Owners Association for non-adherence to the Court’s previous orders to ensure strict implementation of the Road Safety Policy and also the provisions under the Motor Vehicles Act and the Motor Vehicles (Driving) Regulations, 2017 in the State of Kerala, as directed by the Apex Court in Dr. S. Rajaseekaran vs Union of India.

“Many goods carriages are seen plying in the State, carrying the name board “Government of Kerala”, “Kerala State”, “Government Vehicle”, etc to mislead the police and the Enforcement officers of the Motor Vehicles Department, by giving an impression that the said vehicles are owned by government department. Persons in such vehicles are pretending as if they are government servants and they are misusing such name boards to escape from the checking of vehicle by the Police, Enforcement Officers of the Motor Vehicles Department, etc., and to avoid payment of toll at the toll booths. It is the duty of the Police and the Enforcement Officers of the Motor Vehicles Department to keep an eye on such vehicles, subject them to thorough checking, besides verifying the identity of persons in it, and initiate appropriate proceedings in accordance with law,” the Court observed.

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The contempt case arose from the directions of the Court in Anoop KA v KR Jyothylal in which it was also held that in view of the provisions under clause (8) of Rule 21 of the Central Motor Vehicles Rules, carrying overload in goods carriages shall constitute an act, which is likely to cause nuisance or danger to the public, for the purpose of clause (f) of sub-section (1) of Section 19 of the Motor Vehicles Act.

If this direction is not complied with, it is for the Transport Commissioner, the Deputy Transport Commissioner and the Regional Transport Officer to forward the driving licence of the driver of the vehicle to the Licensing Authority, for initiating proceedings under sub-section (1) of Section 19 of the Motor Vehicles Act, the Court had said in Anoop KA.

The said authorities filed affidavits before the Court stating that the due to Covid-19 pandemic situation, the Enforcement Officers of the Motor Vehicles Department showed leniency by not suspending the driving license except in grave offences.

The Court, however, said that this is in violation of the statutory provisions and also the directions contained in the judgment in Anoop KA.

Also Read: Rajasthan High Court disposes of PIL against parking on road in part of Jaipur

Similarly, the Court opined that any interference with the enforcement activities of the officers in the Motor Vehicles Department, either by the Torus/tipper drivers and owners or by the office bearers of their unions, or any threat faced by such officers from their side, also requires serious consideration by the Court.

When the contempt case came up for consideration in October 2021, the Court noticed that the plying of goods vehicles on public place flouting the statutory provisions and the directions of the court in Anoop KA, was likely to cause danger to other road users.

Therefore, it opined that this was a fit case, in which the Court can exercise its inherent powers under Article 215 of the Constitution of India, in order to ensure the safety of most vulnerable road users such as pedestrians, cyclists, children, elderly persons and differently-abled persons.

The matter will be taken up again on February 25.

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