The law that allows trucks to ferry materials, including iron rods, that poke out of vehicles has come under the Supreme Court's scrutiny, with the top court asking the Centre why it shouldn't strike down the provision.
The gravity of the menace can be gauged from the fact that such vehicles were involved in at least 6,743 accidents in the country during 2009-11 and caused 3,707 deaths.
The figures are incomplete as data from some states is not available. During the same period, such vehicles were involved in 405 accidents in Delhi in which 139 lives were lost.
A PIL filed by NGO Savelife Foundation has highlighted the danger caused by heavy motor vehicles carrying materials that protrude out. It has also drawn the court's attention to the law that imposes a fine of just Rs. 100 on such trucks parked on roads without any barricades.
The Central Motor Vehicles Rules (CMVR) of 1989 allow objects to hang out up to one metre beyond the rear most point of a motor vehicle. The law violated the right to life and liberty guaranteed by the Constitution as these trucks were responsible for majority of road accident deaths, NGO's counsel senior advocate Indu Malhtora told the court.
A bench of justice TS Thakur and justice JS Kehar issued notice to the ministry of surface transport for its response.
"There are already rules specified for transportation of goods of dangerous or hazardous nature to human life under the CMVR," a senior road ministry official told HT on condition of anonymity. Asked about the notice, the official said they were yet to receive it.
The court also sought the government's response on the NGO's second plea to increase fine for such trucks left on the road irresponsibly.