Order of the Kerala High Court regarding accidents happening due to the bad condition of roads, 08/08/2022

  • 08/08/2022

Order of the High Court of Kerala in the matter of C. P. Ajithkumar & Others Vs State of Kerala & Others dated 08/08/2022.

The matter related to road accidents taking place due to bad condition of roads on the National Highway.

The Amicus Curiae (Vinod Bhat) brought to the notice of the court  that a person has  has died, falling into a pothole in the National Highway at Athani. Also, some stretches of the NH, particularly at Chalakkudy, Kodungalloor, Orumanayoor have developed huge craters and potholes.

National Highway Authority of India (NHAI), conceded that there were some problems with the stretch in question. The counsel representing NHAI said that the stretch in question is part of the Highway covered under a “Build-Operate-Transfer” agreement with the Concessionaire; and that they are responsible for its upkeep, maintenance as also its restoration.

Counsel for the NHAI assured the court that steps have already been taken to repair every stretch of the National Highway across Kerala - to ensure that such instances do not recur. The bench of Justice Devan Ramachandran said that the Disaster Management Authority of every district need to act proactively to ensure that such accidents do not happen - whether that be in the National Highway, PWD Roads, or any other road under the control of the various local self government institutions.

"Even though this Court has been issuing orders after orders, the roads turn into disrepair after initial and temporary restoration,' said the High Court.

"We can neither wait for another victim; nor can we let the roads of Kerala to be killing fields – whether it be under the NHAI, PWD or the Local Self Government Institutions," the Kerala High Court in its order, August 8, 2022 said.

The High Court said that the District Collectors in their capacity as the heads of the District Disaster Management Authorities, have a definitive role to play and the authorities under them have to be alive to any issues on the roads, particularly relating to potholes and craters.

NHAI has been directed to undertake an enquiry into the accident in question as also on the other stretches which have gone into disrepair and file a report fixing responsibility on engineers/concessionaires as the case may be. The NHAI will take immediate steps to rectify every road under their control, either through the present Concessionaires or through new contractors; but which shall be done without any further delay, but within one week from today (August 8, 2022), the HC added.

"The District Collectors, in their capacity as the heads of the District Disaster Management Authorities will issue orders with respect to any road in which potholes are found and take necessary action against the jurisdictional Engineer, contractors or any other person who may be responsible. All corollary consequences thereto will also follow, to the fullest warrant of law," the order of the Kerala High Court said.