Sun. Dec 15th, 2019

PIL on Mughal Road accident deaths :High Court directs Tpt Comr J&K to come up with inquiry report of deaths 11 students in 3 weeks

Jammu/July, 16: A division Bench of the State High Court comprising Justice Dhiraj Singh Thakur and Justice Sindhu Sharma in the open court on Tuesday took serious note of the recent fatal road accidents on Mughal Road and Keshwan area of Kishtwar District where because of rash and negligent driving and lack of supervision by the Transport/Motor Vehicles Department/Traffic Police, 11 students all belonging to Tehsil Surankote (Poonch) lost their lives and at Keshwan on a single day 37 passengers died on spot. The Division Bench in the open court issued several directions to the State Government and also framed important questions to be answered within a period of three weeks.
These Court directions were passed in a Public Interest Litigation filed by Intakhab Ahmed Qazi a practicing lawyer from Poonch seeking directions to the State Government to initiate appropriate action/enquiry against ARTO Poonch, ARTO Shopian, Senior Superintendent of Police (Traffic) Rural Jammu/Kashmir, SHO Police Station Surankote for their negligence and dereliction in duties which led to the gruesome/tragic road accident on June, 27, 2019 at Aliyabad Sarai on Mughal Road in which 11 students (09 young girls) ranging between 20 to 25 years lost their lives who were traveling in Tempo Traveler bearing registration No.JK12-3475 in which 18 passengers were seated against the sitting capacity of 12 passengers.
After hearing Advocate Sheikh Shakeel Ahmed with Advocates Rahul Raina, Supriya Chouhan and Mohd. Zulkarnain Chowdhary appearing for the petitioner, the Division Bench headed by Justice Dhiraj Singh Thakur in the open court issued directions to the Transport Commissioner J&K to place before the Court the result of the enquiry entrusted to the Regional Transport Officer, Jammu with regard to the expiry of the route permit of the Tempo Traveller, issuance of permit and the fitness certificate besides the reasons which led to the road accident. The Division Bench noticed with concern the issues raised in the PIL and expressed its grave concern over the dance of death on the roads particularly on Mughal road and the roads of erstwhile Doda District.
While expressing its deep concern over the Dance of Death on Mughal road as well as the recent accident in Keshwan area of Kishtwar District, the Division Bench looking into the seriousness of the matter framed several questions to be answered by the State respondents including the total number of traffic personnel deployed for regulating traffic in the twin Districts of Rajouri-Poonch including Mughal Road and also the Nafri deployed in erstwhile Doda District and other vulnerable roads of these Districts. The Division Bench further sought reply from the IGP Traffic J&K to inform the Court about the lack of supervision or the action, if any, initiated against the officials/officers who were duty bound to check overloading of the offending vehicle which met with fatal accident on Mughal road on June, 27, 2019. The Division Bench further framed the questions with regard to the suspension/ cancellation of the driving license of those drivers who repeatedly indulge in rash driving and further the Court also sought response with regard to the banning of the commercial/passenger vehicles having more than 15 years life on the pattern of NCR Delhi.
The Division Bench also issued notices to the Principal Secretary (Home) J&K, Commissioner/Secretary to Govt. of J&K Transport Department,Commissioner/Secretary to Govt. of J&K Public Works Department, Commissioner/Secretary to Govt. of J&K Health and Medical Education Department, Director General of Police J&K, Deputy Commissioners Poonch/Rajouri/Shopian, Inspector General of Police (Traffic) J&K, Transport Commissioner J&K, Chief Engineer Mughal Road Project Jammu/Srinagar, Executive Engineer Mughal Road Project Surankote (Poonch), Senior Superintendent of Police (Traffic) Rural Jammu/Kashmir, RTO Jammu, ARTOs Poonch, Rajouri, Shopian for filing their response to the PIL within a period of three weeks. AAG Raman Sharma accepted notices in the open court on behalf of Principal Secretary Home J&K, Director General of Police J&K, Inspector General of Police (Traffic) J&K whereas Deputy Advocate General Arshad Majid Malik accepted notices on behalf of Commissioner/ Secretary to Govt. of J&K Transport Department, Transport Commissioner J&K, RTO Jammu, ARTOs Poonch, Rajouri, Shopian. Both the State Counsel assured the Division Bench that the replies shall be filed within the stipulated period looking into the seriousness of the matter.
Advocate Sheikh Shakeel Ahmed appearing for the petitioner submitted that the Mughal road from Chatta Pani to Peer Ki Gali is in dilapidated condition and there is no blacktopping on this stretch of Mughal road and besides this the Chief Engineer Mughal Road Project has miserably failed to ensure the construction of road culverts/protection walls/road side barriers which is resulting in the road traffic accidents and the innocent people are loosing their precious lives. Advocate Ahmed further submitted that there is no Trauma Centre/Accidental Hospitals on either side of the Mughal road and the accidental victims have been left to the mercy of the God. He further submitted there are no ambulances on the Mughal road on the pattern of National Highway.
Advocate S.S. Ahmed further submitted that one of the major cause of the road accidents in the twin border Districts of Rajouri-Poonch including Mughal road and erstwhile Doda District is the plying of unfit commercial/passenger vehicles and the Transport/ Motor Vehicles Department/Traffic Police are hand in glove with the owners/drivers of these unfit vehicles and there is a dire need to post honest/upright officials in these Traffic Regulatory Departments so that on these vulnerable roads the accidents are checked.
Advocate S.S. Ahmed further submitted that mostly the focus of the Traffic Police is in the twin capital cities and some important points on Jammu-Srinagar National Highway and very less Nafri is deputed for remote Districts/vulnerable roads of Rajouri/Poonch and erstwhile Doda District and appropriate directions are required to be issued to the IGP Traffic J&K to place before the Court the total number of officers/officials deputed for regulation of Traffic in the Muffasil areas of the State so that a view is taken by the Court.
The Division Bench looking into the importance of the matter also impleaded National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) as well as Border Roads Organization (BRO) as party respondents in the PIL.
The Division Bench also clubbed the instant PIL with PIL No.1/2018 filed by Advocate Syed Asim Hashmi on behalf of Bar Association Doda wherein the Doda Bar has highlighted the road accidents in the erstwhile Doda District.
The Division Bench looking into the importance of the matter directed the listing of the instant PIL along with PIL No.1/2018 immediately after three weeks.

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