Bear with Bluelines till 2012!
While the division bench of justices A. K. Sikri and Suresh Kait dismissed the plea of the Blueline operators seeking the renewal of their licences, they were reticent to place the blame for Delhi's unsafe roads entirely on the Blueline buses.
" Issue of safety in public transport system cannot be confined to Blueline buses. No doubt, Blueline buses proved a menace and totally non- feasible and therefore face a total wipe off from the roads. However, much is required to be done to achieve the safety norms," the court observed.
Nevertheless, the court noted: " Public transport has to keep abreast of the times, both in terms of technology of the vehicles and sophisticated business models. The old system of operation by singleowned stage carriage permit holders/ Blueline bus operators is no more feasible, advisable or permissible." " The fundamental right to life takes precedence over all statutory rights. The right to livelihood of the Blueline bus operators, numbering a few hundred, would have to be subservient to the larger public interest of the safety to other road users," the judgment read.
The court has also issued detail guidelines for the government on the public transport system and road safety. It has asked the government to " achieve the object of proper control of traffic and prevention of traffic offences as they did during the Commonwealth Games". In its 80- page order, the court has agreed with most of the submissions of the Delhi government's standing counsel Najmi Waziri stating that sufficient public transport system is available to take care of the ridership requirements " Today, most of the Blueline buses have been decimated with only 328 still visible on Delhi roads. Notwithstanding the same, no difficulty is faced by the commuters in the city who are using public transport. This fact alone would clinch the issue and confirm the position taken by the Delhi government," the court noted.
Coming down heavily on the Bluelines, the court said their very presence on the road give a baleful look because of their brazen behaviour.
" The Blueline bus has assumed the shape of an unchecked monster on the roads which had no sympathy for children, the aged or the disabled.
During the proceedings, a view that ' enough is enough' was taken, and it was absolutely essential in the interest of the people of this city to erase the Blueline buses from the scene," the Bench ruled.
The court also upheld the legality of the government's cluster scheme, which provides for private stage carriage buses through corporate entities to replace the existing Blueline buses, and has directed its implementation in a time- bound manner.
" We are of the view that the cluster scheme as introduced does not suffer from any illegality, infirmity and is in the larger public interest. There is no reason to cull the same. It, thus, finds our approval," the Bench observed.
Despite the reprieve to the killer buses, Delhi transport minister Arvinder Singh Lovely described the verdict as a victory for the government and a vindication of its stand.
" It is the best thing to have happened for the people of Delhi. They will no longer have to live under the fear of killer Blueline buses," he said.
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