The Permanent Lok Adalat, a judicial forum constituted to settle disputes relating to public utility services, has ordered Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) to ensure that seats are compulsorily set apart for women in its buses conducting stage carriage operations.

The forum, chaired by A. Dennison and comprising K.M.A. Latheef and D. Santosh Kumar as its members, ordered the KSRTC to reserve the front door of two-door buses for the exclusive use of women. It should be written on the buses that its front doors are exclusively for the use of women.

In the cases of buses with only a rear door, the conductor should ensure that the seats near the door are set apart for women.

Petition

The forum passed the order on the basis of a petition submitted by Mundela P. Basheer, chairman of Pothujanavedi, a non profit organisation. Mr. Basheer had petitioned that the KSRTC did not mark and set apart seats for women in its buses. This violation of the Kerala Motor Vehicle Rules was causing much difficulty to women.

He pleaded that at least 25 per cent of seats in KSRTC buses be allotted for women and that all KSRTC buses conducting stage carriage services be provided with two doors.

KSRTC response

The KSRTC stated that it reserved 25 per cent of seats for women in its buses conducting short distance and fast passenger services. In its air conditioned buses conducting inter-State services, at least three rows of seat behind the driver's cabin were reserved for women. The same was the case in Super Fast, Super Deluxe and Express buses.

It stated that if women did not occupy the reserved seats at the start of the journey, the places were allotted to men. If any women boarded the bus during the course of the journey, the men were expected to vacate the seats. The KSRTC said it opposed the suggestion that the conductor's seat be shifted to near the front door of buses.