Annoyed by the Punjab government's practice of appointing serving and retired bureaucrats on the 10-member state road safety committee in spite of repeated caution, the Punjab and Haryana high court has asked the transport secretary to appear and explain.
The high court has also ordered Haryana's transport secretary to remain present on the next date of hearing on February 10 for failing to submit the report till date.
The division bench comprising chief justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and justice Arun Palli said, "We fail to appreciate as to why the state (Punjab) can't find anyone beyond serving or retired bureaucrats." The court ordered to keep the state government's appointments in abeyance and directed to find out independent road safety experts.
Pulling up the government functionaries, the chief justice said, "Don't exasperate me… I'll put my anguish on paper. You are making complete mockery of the system."
In August last year, taking a serious view of the state governments considering the subject of road safety so lightly, the court had directed the two states and Chandigarh to frame respective road safety policies and constitute road safety experts' committees "not packed with bureaucrats" within four months.
The development took place during the resumed hearing of a case when the court was informed that the state government had on January 25 appointed DP Gupta, retired additional secretary of union ministry of road transport and highways, and Harish Sethi, Haryana government's retired engineer-in-chief (building and road), as members of the Punjab committee.
The high court had taken suo motu notice of a letter by Kamaljeet Soi, vice-chairman of the Punjab State Road Safety Council. Highlighting the callous attitude of the Punjab government towards road safety, Soi had submitted that the total number of people affected by road accidents in Punjab would be in excess of 5 lakh.
During the hearing of the case on Monday, Soi submitted, "The court had ordered in August last year to convene two meetings on road safety every month, but till date, Punjab had convened one meeting and Haryana none." 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 the problem.