Early Times Report
Jammu, July 16: The J&K High Court on Tuesday took serious note of the death of 11 students recently in an accident on Mughal Road and 37 persons on Keshwan road in Kishtwar.
A Division Bench of the High Court comprising Justice Dhiraj Singh Thakur and Justice Sindhu Sharma 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.
The directions were passed in a Public Interest Litigation filed by Intakhab Ahmed Qazi, a lawyer from Poonch, seeking directions to the 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 tragic road accident on June, 27, 2019 at Aliyabad Sarai on Mughal Road in which 11 students (including 9 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 appearing for the petitioner, the 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, the Division Bench 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 personnel 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.
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.
The court 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.