It must be stated at the outset that it is most concerning to see that it is India which records maximum deaths due to road accidents. The deaths due to road accidents is more than the death caused by terrorists or by any other known cause! What is even more shocking to see is that still we see the rampant use by drivers of cell phones and not wearing helmets at all or wearing not proper helmets which can protect their head if met with an accident!
As it turned out, in a slew of directions issued to ensure road safety, the Uttarakhand High Court in the landmark case of Avidit Noliyal v State of Uttarakhand and others in Writ Petition No. 148 of 2014 (PIL) on June 18, 2018 in a slew of directions issued to ensure road safety directed the State to issue directions authorizing cancellation of licences of drivers found using cell phones while driving. This landmark ruling was the crying need of the hour also! Now people will be compelled to follow what the Uttarakhand High Court has directed so explicitly to ensure road rules are followed which in turn will ensure maximum safety of all those who either drive or walk on roads!
While craving for the exclusive indulgence of my esteemed readers, let me inform them that the Bench of Uttarakhand High Court comprising of Justice Rajiv Sharma and Justice Lok Pal Singh which was hearing a petition filed by one Avidit Noliyal seeking directions to the State authorities to strictly implement Sections 128 (safety measures for drivers and pillion riders) and 129 (wearing of protective headgear) of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 and the Rules framed thereunder. Responding to the petition, the State had submitted details of the challans issued under Section 129. But this alone is just not enough! This was noted even by the Bench of the Uttarakhand High Court which while appreciating the steps taken by the State made it a point to take notice of the discernible fact that 50 percen5t of people driving two-wheelers were still not using protective gears and thus exposing themselves to all sorts of injuries and risks!
For my esteemed readers exclusive indulgence, it must also be informed here that para 2 of this landmark judgment points out very clearly and categorically that, “The State has filed the counter affidavit. The State Government has given the details of the Challans issued under Section 129 of the Motor Vehicles Act. The Court appreciates the steps taken by the Government agencies for the enforcement of Section 129 of the Act. However, the Court can still take judicial notice of the fact that 50 percent of the Scooterists/Motorcyclists are not using protective headgear as ordained under Section 129 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 (herein after referred to as the Act), seriously entailing injuries to themselves. This kind of law is known as paternalism. Though, it is the responsibility of the person to protect his/her life and property, but still in the larger public interest, this enactment has been made by the Central Government. The scope of this writ petition has been enlarged. The Court has taken judicial notice of the iron angles, iron rods (sariyas), logs, girdles including iron sheets and fiber sheets protrude outside the transport vehicles. These are very fatal. The transport vehicles cannot be permitted to ferry iron rods (sariyas), logs, girdles including iron sheets and fiber sheets protruding/projecting outside the length of the vehicle. Many valuable lives are lost due to the reckless act of the owners of the transport vehicles. The highest number of accidents of this type are reported in the State of Uttar Pradesh. The tractor-trollies, trucks, jeeps, bullock carts are the main carriers of these items. We have also noticed the drivers using cell phone while driving the vehicles endangering their lives as well as the lives of other persons. These illegal acts are required to be curbed with heavy hand. Even if the headgears are used by the motor cyclists/scooterists, it is not I.S.I mark. It is more ceremonial than effective.” Very rightly said! There can be no denying or disputing it! This alone explains why so many people lose their precious lives every year in our country due to road accidents which is the highest in the world!
Having said this, it must be now brought out here that the Bench of the Uttarakhand High Court comprising of Justice Rajiv Sharma and Justice Lok Pal Singh then disposed of the petition by issuing a slew of landmark directions in the larger public interest. Those slew of landmark directions are as follows: –
(i) The State Government is directed to enforce strictly the provisions of Section 129 of the Act.
Helmet with ISI mark compulsory
(ii) No motor motorcyclists/Scooterists shall be permitted to ply the motorcycle/scooter without wearing helmet of I.S.I mark. The Senior Superintendent of Police, C.O.’s and Kotwals shall be personally responsible to implement this order.
(iii) It shall be open to all the citizens throughout the State Government to point out the non-compliance of this Court’s orders through the Registrar General of this Court.
Ban on carrying iron sheets, pipes and rods
(iv) The State Government is directed to make Rules prohibiting the carrying of the iron sheets, iron rods, girdles, steel pipes and plastic pipes beyond the structural length/body of the vehicles. Till the Rules are made there shall be the ban of carrying iron sheets, iron rods, girdles, steel pipes and plastic pipes beyond the structural length/body of the transport vehicles throughout the State of Uttarakhand.
(v) These directions shall apply from the source to all the transporters. It shall be the responsibility of the factory owners and shopkeepers to ensure the due compliance of this order forthwith.
Cancellation of licence of those using cell phone while driving
(vi) The State Government is directed to issue necessary instructions to cancel the licenses of those persons, who are found using cell phones while driving. Till the State Government comes out with the necessary amendment/notification, fine of Rs. 5000/- shall be charged from every violator using the cell phone while driving.
No driving licence for minors
(vii) The State Government is also directed to ensure that no minors are issued any driving licenses and they are not permitted to drive the vehicles. The Principals/head of the Institution of all the Educational Institutions shall make the students aware of these directions issued hereinabove and cooperate for due implementation of these directions in larger public interest.
No doubt, it is a landmark ruling which must be fully and firmly implemented. It is the bounden duty of the State Government and the concerned authorities to ensure that what all directions this Bench of Uttarakhand High Court comprising of Justice Rajiv Sharma and Lok Pal Singh have given in this landmark case is given effect to effectively and taken to its logical conclusion! It brooks no delay. People too must cooperate to ensure that this landmark judgment is fully complied with because it is for their safety and for their benefit that this landmark judgment has been delivered!
Sanjeev Sirohi, Advocate,
s/o Col BPS Sirohi,
A 82, Defence Enclave,
Sardhana Road, Kankerkhera,
Meerut – 250001, Uttar Pradesh.