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Supreme Court stays Kerala High Court order banning advertisements on KSRTC buses


The Supreme Court on Monday stayed the last year order of the Kerala High Court, which had banned the display of advertisements on buses of the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC).

The interim order was passed by the Bench of Justice Surya Kant and Justice J.K. Maheshwar on a special leave petition filed by KSRTC, challenging the verdict of the High Court on December 9, 2022 in a suo motu case.
Keeping paragraph 11 of the impugned High Court verdict in abeyance, the Apex Court issued notice to the State of Kerala in the matter.
Representing the KSRTC, Senior Advocate V Giri apprised the Bench that the corporation has formulated a scheme for display of advertisements in a manner which will not cause distraction to the public. 
The Bench then directed the State of Kerala to consider the scheme.
Earlier on January 5, the Apex Court had directed the KSRTC to propose a scheme for displaying advertisements. 
As per Giri, the new scheme included:
1) No advertisements on the front side and side glasses of the buses.
2) No covering of the back glasses of the buses with advertisements. 
3) Statutory indicators at the back side won’t be obstructed by advertisements.
He said the Motor Vehicle Rules permitted such display. 
The High Court had taken suo motu cognisance of a tourist bus accident, which took place in Wadakkancherry in October 2022, leading to death of several school children. The High Court had passed several directions against the use of LED lights, horns, DJ sound systems and banners on glasses, taking note of such rampant violations in contract carriages. 
The Senior Advocate argued that there was no need for the High Court to pass a direction against the exhibition of advertisements in buses, adding that advertisements were a major source of income for the cash-strapped corporation.
He contended that the High Court had ruled against display of advertisements on the side body of the bus, which was permissible under the Rules. 
Even the state government had granted permission for the same in 2020, noted the Senior Advocate.

(Case Title: KSRTC Vs State of Kerala)

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