Hot Off The PressNews

Supreme Court: The Madan B. Lokur and Deepak Gupta, JJ directed the National Highways Authority Of India (NHAI) to ensure that the newly constructed Eastern Expressway, which is aimed at decongesting Delhi, is thrown open to public from June 1 even if the Prime Minister cannot inaugurate it by then/ The Bench said that “any delay will not be in interest of people.”

NHAI had told the Court that the expressway was scheduled to be inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on April 29 but it could not be done due to his prior commitments. The Bench took exception to the 135-km Expressway, which envisages signal-free connectivity between Ghaziabad, Faridabad, Gautam Budh Nagar (Greater Noida) and Palwal, not being thrown open to the public despite being informed earlier that it would be inaugurated by April 20.

The Eastern and Western Peripheral Expressways were planned in 2006 following Supreme Court’s order to build a ring road outside the national capital for channelling non-Delhi bound traffic. The Supreme Court had asked the Centre in 2005 to build a peripheral expressway around Delhi by July 2016 to decongest and “de-pollute” the national capital.

Source: PTI

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In the PIL filed by the Chairman and Head of Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Ganga Hospital, Coimbatore, seeking enforcement of road safety norms and appropriate treatment of accident victims, after witnessing the acute loss of life and limbs caused by road accidents daily, the bench of Madan B. Lokur and Deepak Gupta, JJ enumerated a number of directions to ensure road safety. Some of the most important directions include:

  • Framing of Road Safety Policy by State Governments and constitution of State Road Safety Council.
  • Establishment of Lead Agency acting as act as the Secretariat of the State Road Safety Council and coordinate all activities such as licensing issues including issues of driving licences, registration of vehicles, road safety and features of vehicles, along with other allied matters including emission norms and other activities.
  • Establishment of Road Safety Fund from the fines collected for traffic violations and the Fund will be utilized for meeting expenses relating to road safety.
  • State Governments and Union Territories should urgently prepare a Road Safety Action Plan by 31st March, 2018 and put it into action after giving it due publicity.
  • District Road Safety Committee headed by the Collector of the District should be constituted and should include amongst others the Superintendent of Police, Health Officers, Engineers of the Public Works Department, representatives of the National Highways Authority of India, the Road Transport Officer of the District and members of civil society from the District.
  • State Governments and Union Territories should establish Permanent Road Safety Cells by 31st January, 2018.
  • Improvement in the design of roads to make them safe.
  • GPS or location tracking devices must be fitted in all public service vehicles.
  • Road Safety Audits as an audit of road safety is essential to reduce the possibility of road accidents through corrective measures.
  • Road Safety Equipments including acquisition of cameras and surveillance equipments in detecting traffic and identifying violators, setting up of special patrol forces along the National Highways and State Highways.
  • Road Safety Education and Counseling should be made a part of the school curriculum.
  • Emergency Medical Care should be established and at least one Trauma Care Centre should be set up in every district with necessary facilities and an ambulance.
  • Due publicity must be given to the Universal Accident Helpline Number ‘108’ so that an ambulance can be activated at the earliest whenever necessary.
  • Directions relating to Drivers’ training, lane driving, ABS, Air Bags and Headlights, Speed Governors, Crash Test, etc. were also issued.

The petitioner had suggested that practical measures need to be taken in a time-bound and expeditious manner to give effect to legislations, reports and recommendations for ensuring that the loss of lives due to road accidents is minimized. He had brought to the Court’s notice that 90% of the problem of deaths due to road accidents is the result of a lack of strict enforcement of safety rules on roads and strict punishment for those who do not obey rules. He had relied upon data published in December 2011 by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways in its publication captioned “Road Accidents in India 2010” to indicate that the number of road accidents is increasing every year and that unfortunately more than half the victims are in the economically active age group of 25-65 years. [Dr. S. Rajaseekaran (II) v. Union of India,  2017 SCC OnLine SC 1392, decided on 30.11.2017]

High Courts

Kerala High Court: While deciding as to whether the right granted under the Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Act, 2014 can be claimed by a street vendor/ stationary vendor on a National Highway, a bench of Ashok Bhushan CJ and A.M. Shaffique J upheld the decision of the learned Single Judge that the appellant has no right to carry on the bunk shop on a National Highway, as the land forming part of the Highways is vested in the Central Government and Kochi Corporation (‘local authority’ under 2014 Act) cannot issue a licence for carrying out bunk shop on the property of the National Highways Authority.

The Court relied on the judgment of the Supreme Court in Sodan Singh v. New Delhi Municipal Committee (1989) 4 SCC 155, and observed that the contention of T.B. Mini, learned Counsel for the appellant that the appellant has a right to carry on business under Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution, cannot be denied. However, the Court made clear that as per the provisions of the 2014 Act, right to street vendors to render services to public have been given in ‘vending zone’ in the ‘local authority’ which includes footpath, sidewalk, pavement, embankment, street, public park etc. and does not contemplate any such street vending on the National Highway. The Court accepted the contention of Thomas Antony, learned Counsel for the respondent that as the National Highways vests in the Central Government and is managed by the National Highways Authority, the Kochi Corporation (‘local authority’) cannot grant licence to the appellant to carry on the business on National Highways.

The Court further referred various provisions of the National Highways Act, 1956, the National Highways Authority of India Act, 1988, and the control of National Highways (Land and Traffic) Act, 2002, and held that the provisions of 2014 Act do not override the provisions of 1956 Act, 1988 Act and 2002 Act and hence no one can occupy or use any land of Highways without permission from the Highway Authority. The Court concluded that there is no error in the notice issued by the National Highways Authority directing the appellant to vacate the premises, and directed the appellant to seek for relocation of bunk shop before the Kochi Corporation. T.P. Cherian Philip v. National Highways Authority of India2015 SCC OnLine Ker 17522, decided on 10.08.2015