The Delhi High Court refused to interfere with compensation of over ₹19 lakh awarded to the family of a 26-year-old who died in an accident involving a Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) bus in 2011.
Justice Gaurang Kanth, in the verdict dated September 23, noted that the bus driver had a fake driving licence and was driving the vehicle negligently. The judge noted that the DTC failed to exercise “reasonable care” before employing the driver.
“A public transport undertaking is not expected to unleash untrained, incompetent and unlicensed drivers upon the unsuspecting innocent public,” Justice Kanth observed.
As per the FIR, on February 17, 2011, Prabhir Singh, the offending driver, was driving a DTC bus ‘in a very rash and negligent manner’ in Saket when he hit the deceased, Abdesh Sharma, who was riding a bicycle, leading to his death.
The High Court further highlighted that numerous instances of rash and negligent driving involving DTC buses had resulted in severe injuries and deaths. “Even today, the strain of this malaise subsists,” the court added.
The High Court said a public employer such as the DTC, being a statutory undertaking, should exercise due caution and care while verifying documents submitted by a person who is offered employment.
The court’s decision came on an appeal by the DTC against an order passed by a Motor Accident Claims Tribunal, which awarded over ₹19 lakh as compensation to the wife, father, and minor son of the deceased.
The court added that the DTC had clearly “failed in its duty to exercise reasonable care apropos use of the public transport bus for ferrying ordinary unsuspecting passengers who board it with the bonafide belief that its driver is duly licensed and has undergone requisite training and has the competence to drive a public bus on the roads of Delhi.”