Taking a serious view of the state governments taking road safety lightly, the Punjab and Haryana high court on Thursday directed Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh to constitute road safety experts' committee/council "not packed with bureaucrats" within 15 days and frame road safety policies within four months.
The division bench headed by chief justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul also made it clear that, unlike Punjab's existing council, the councils should have at least 10 members and should not be packed with bureaucrats so that road safety experts are included to utilise their expertise. The court said the councils should have periodic meetings, at least two a month.
Both the state governments and the Chandigarh administration were directed that their policies on road safety should be communicated to the departments concerned as to what measures they were
supposed to take in implementing the policy.
The directions came during the resumed hearing of a case in which the high court had taken suo motu notice of a letter by Kamaljeet S Soi, vice-chairman of Punjab State Road Safety Council. Highlighting the alleged callous attitude of the Punjab government to road safety, Soi had submitted that the total affected people of road accidents in Punjab would be in excess of five lakh.
Punjab's 'non-existent' council
During the hearing of the case on Thursday, the court was surprised to hear from Soi that there were 25 members in the Punjab council of which 22 were bureaucrats and only he was the road safety expert. "How can you have so many bureaucrats in such a committee? Are they experts on everything? Though measures are taken by the government on paper, the issue is of implementation."
When Soi informed the court about the state's "non-existent" council, speaking for the bench, the chief justice said, "The body made to look after road safety has not been able to function properly."
Making a mention of Wednesday's Punjab Roadways bus accident taking many lives, Soi requested the court that in such cases, the officers concerned be taken to task.
The petitioner had informed the court that there were 370 black spots (accident-prone spots) in Punjab but the state government was doing nothing to sort out the problem.Though the court disposed of the case, directions were issued to both the states and Chandigarh to submit the compliance report by December 17.