Friday, March 24, 2023

Suspend red light challans to clear way for ambulances: Delhi HC dismisses plea with cost

The bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Jasmeet Singh said traffic lights and cameras cannot be suspended under the Motor Vehicle Act (MAct). Ambulance must be given priority to go without any hindrance at traffic lights.

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The Delhi High Court today dismissed a somewhat under-prepared plea that had asked for a suspension of issuance of challans through red light violation detection cameras. The plea had argued that such challans apparently instill fear in the drivers ahead of an ambulance and hence do not move ahead or away to give way to the ambulance, especially during the current pandemic. The court also imposed a cost of Rs 2,500.

Case: Utkarsh Trivedi v Union of India

The bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Jasmeet Singh said traffic lights and cameras cannot be suspended under the Motor Vehicle Act (MAct). The ambulance must be given priority to go without any hindrance at traffic lights.

Justice Singh said: “Special arrangements by using the barricades are already there at every red light for last 3-4 days. There can’t be the removal of the cameras under the MAct. They are there for a good purpose and ambulances can go without any hindrance and are fully exempted. The petitioner has come unprepared in the court and therefore the court finds no reason to give further orders. The petition is dismissed with a cost of Rs. 2500,” said the court in its order.

The petition was filed in the Delhi High Court by Utkarsh Trivedi, a fourth-year student of National Law University, Odisha, through his advocate Satyam Singh Rajput.

The petitioner had mentioned a recent article published in the media on April 25 on the queuing up of ambulances to enter the hospitals and of a person being declared brought dead after several hospitals refused to admit him. He argued that in such situations, where hospital beds are being occupied by the minute, spending precious minutes queuing up at a traffic light by ambulances is problematic.

The petitioner stated: “This petition concerns itself with the indulgence of this Hon’ble Court to issue directions to the Respondents for seeking a Writ in the nature of Mandamus or any other appropriate Writ, Order, Directions of like nature directing the Respondents to suspend the issuance/usage of Challans by the Red-Light Violation Cameras in Delhi. Due to the deterrence of drivers standing in front of Ambulances at a traffic light, being scared of the repercussions of either crossing the red light or even moving over the STOP LINE to get the ambulance to pass over, the ambulances do not get their Right of Way, and have to stand for crucial minutes on every traffic light where such a camera is installed.

“Section 136A of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 which provides for the usage of electronic devices on the roads for issuance of violations needs to be suspended, for the purposes of Challan issuance on the Traffic Light. The Vehicles stationed in front of an ambulance carrying a patient lose crucial time, waiting for the traffic light to turn green, when it clearly has a Right of Way under Regulation 27 of the Motor Vehicles (Driving) Regulations, 2017. However, Section 194E of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 also punishes those vehicles which do not give way to an Ambulance, while on the road, therefore, the driver is in the position of committing either of the two offenses, either Stop Line/Traffic light jump violation or blocking the way of an Ambulance, while on the road,” it said.

The petitioner had also mentioned the judgment of The Hon’ble Supreme Court in Bandhua Mukti Morcha vs. Union of India (UOI) and Ors, AIR 1984 SC 802 has held that “This right to live with human dignity enshrined in Article 21 derives its life breath from the Directive Principles of State Policy and particularly Clauses (e) and (f) of Article 39 and Articles 41 and 42 and at the least, therefore, it must include protection of the health and strength of workers men and women, and of the tender age of children against abuse, opportunities and facilities for children to develop in a healthy manner and in conditions of freedom and dignity, educational facilities, just and humane conditions of work and maternity relief.

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The Petitioner had sought the following reliefs;

(a) Issue directions to Respondent No. 1 to suspend the usage of the Traffic Light Violation Cameras under the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 till the situation in Delhi gets better;
(b) Issue directions to Respondent No. 2 and 3 to ensure that Ambulances at traffic lights are given utmost priority;
(c) Pass such further orders as may be deemed fit and proper in the facts and circumstances of the present case.

Source: ILNS

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