Karnataka High Court issues directions on maintaining KSRTC buses, rules to scrap old vehicles

The order came on a petition filed by a Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) driver who was convicted for culpable homicide.

ByPTI

Published Dec 28, 2023 | 2:30 PMUpdatedDec 28, 2023 | 2:30 PM

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The High Court of Karnataka has ordered that high-mileage government transport corporation buses should be scrapped for the safety of passengers and road users.

The order came on a petition filed by a Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) driver who was convicted for culpable homicide after the bus he was driving caused an accident in which two school-going children were killed.

Noticing that the bus that was involved in the accident had run for over 10 lakh km and was not in good condition, the high court issued six directions on maintaining KSRTC buses, including framing of rules to scrap old vehicles.

“In this case, the said offending bus had already run more than 10,00,000 km and the vehicle was not having ignition starter, horn, and brakes. The passengers, who were travelling in the said bus were compelled to push the said bus to get it started. The condition of the bus which is brought on record is quite alarming,” the court noted.

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Court orders

Directing KSRTC to provide better quality buses, Justice Ramachandra D Huddar said, “As per the rules framed by the KSRTC on completion of particular running of kilometres and such buses are bound to be scrapped and such scrapped buses should not be permitted to be used for any scheduled routes either to the cities or to villages.”

The other guidelines issued by the high court include that the mechanical department of the KSRTC should certify every bus is “fit for road”, and only such buses with the certificate should be permitted to ply the roads.

Every year, the KSRTC authorities should obtain a certificate from the Regional Transport Office (RTO) concerned for all the buses and only such vehicles should be allowed to ply the roads. The court also directed, “There shall be periodical mechanical examination and repair of the buses.”

The court had questioned the public relations officer who had stated that the North Western Karnataka Road Transport Corporation (NWKRTC) operates 2,300 buses, which have run more than nine lakh km.

“When such a large number of people are commuting every day by buses maintained by the corporation, it is the duty of the KSRTC to ensure better quality of buses to ply the road, keeping in mind the safety of the passengers who travel in KSRTC buses and also the users of the road to avoid any casualties,” the court said.

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The petition

The petitioner, Satish, was driving a KSRTC bus in Ankola on KC Road when the accident took place.
Three children, Dhananjaya (13), his brother Mrityunjaya (12), and friend Abhilash Maruti Gaonkar (12) were returning home when the bus hit them from behind.

Mrityunjaya and Abhilash died in the accident. Satish was put on trial and found guilty for culpable homicide, causing grievous hurt and rash and negligent driving. He was sentenced to undergo imprisonment for one year for culpable homicide and rash and negligent driving, and two months imprisonment for causing hurt.

The Sessions Court upheld this conviction which he challenged in the high court.

The high court, while upholding the conviction, modified the sentence from one year imprisonment to six months imprisonment.

The high court said that the driver was negligent and he should have refused to drive a vehicle that was not in a fit condition.

“When the accused was having knowledge of the condition of the bus, the accused could have refused to take the said bus on a public road on a specified route, as observed by the Trial Court. With regard to the threat by the superior officer of the accused that the accused would lose his job, the accused has to see the safety of the road users as well as inmates of the bus. But he has not thought of the same and has taken risks,” it said.

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