J. Venkatesan

“You don’t have the right to kill people,” warns Chief Justice

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Friday expressed serious concern over the spate of accidents caused by Blueline buses in the Capital resulting in loss of many lives. (According to statistics given to the Court by the Delhi Government, as many as 488 persons had succumbed to such bus accidents in the past three years.)

A Bench of Chief Justice K. G. Balakrishnan and Justice R. V. Raveendran while expressing concern over the havoc caused by the Blueline buses declined to interfere with an order passed by the Delhi High Court imposing hefty fines on the owners and drivers of Blueline buses and impounding vehicles involved in accidents.

The Chief Justice told counsel for the petitioner, Puneet Bali: “You don’t have the right to kill people.”

When counsel said that accidents were caused because the number of Blueline buses on the Capital’s roads and the number of trips they make was more than other services, the Chief Justice said: “The ratio of accidents seems to be very high for Blueline buses.”

Mr. Bali, who was appearing for petitioner Krishna Travels, referred to the directions given by the Delhi High Court, viz, asking the Delhi Government to phase out Blueline buses in the city, to withdraw licences of erring drivers and initiation of criminal proceedings against drivers who were found unfit, imposing hefty penalties on the owners of the vehicles and directing the Government to frame guidelines for the bus operators, and said that the High Court could not issue such directions.

Counsel referred to the recent Supreme Court judgment of Justice A. K. Mathur and Justice Markandey Katju and said that courts should not go about interfering in executive decisions. “If we are causing accidents, there are provisions in the Motor Vehicles Act to deal with the same. The High Court had no authority to pass orders contrary to the provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act,” he said.

To that the Chief Justice said: “We have a solemn duty to protect the fundamental rights of citizens. If the Executive fails in its duties, this Court will interfere come what may. If you feel that you have not been heard properly, go to the High Court. We cannot entertain this petition.”

The petitioner had sought a direction to quash the High Court order and an interim stay of its operation on the ground that it had affected a large number of Blueline operators.

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