Allahabad High Court

Allahabad High Court: In a suo motu cognizance of the issue of open manholes and ducts within the municipal limits of Lucknow, the Bench of Rajan Roy and Om Prakash Shukla, JJ., said that this is an important matter involving interest of the public at large which requires attention of the Municipal Corporation. The Court also expressed the desire to know the correct facts as to how such an incident occurred and whether there is any lapse on the part of the Municipal Authorities, and whether there are other manholes or ducts in the city which are lying open and what steps are being taken in this regard by the Municipal Authorities.

It was brought to the attention of the Bench by a practicing Advocate, who highlighted a news item published in the Times of India newspaper, Lucknow on 24-04-2024, that reported the tragic incident of an 8-year-old boy falling into an open manhole and losing his life.

He further highlighted an additional news item from the same newspaper, stating that numerous manholes and ducts were found open throughout Lucknow, posing a continuous risk of similar incidents in the future. He emphasized that the Municipal Corporation, tasked with ensuring these openings are adequately covered, had failed in its duty, resulting in the tragic incident. He urged the Court to take suo motu cognizance of the matter and initiate Public Interest Litigation (PIL) proceedings to address the issue effectively under the Court’s supervision.

The Court, upon perusal of the news item and considering its implications, recognized the gravity of the situation, which directly affected the safety and well-being of the public at large. The Court deemed it necessary to ascertain the facts surrounding the incident and determine any lapses on the part of the municipal authorities, and therefore, decided to register a suo-motu PIL.

The Court directed the Municipal Corporation of Lucknow and the Lucknow Development Authority to be arrayed as opposite parties in the proceedings. Notice was to be issued to the Standing Counsel representing the opposite parties.

The Court further directed that following the registration of the PIL., the case was to be presented before the appropriate Bench on 30-04-2024, and instructed that the news item be retained as part of the PIL. record, and requested assistance from members of the Bar in addressing the matter effectively.

[Suo-Motu In re: Open Manholes and Ducts within the municipal limits of Lucknow posing a danger to life of the residents, 2024 SCC OnLine All 1262, Order dated 24-04-2024]

Advocates who appeared in this case:

Adarsh Mehrotra, Advocate

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