Letter to Chief Justice considered PIL
* Directed government to frame CoE to determine cause, submit ATR
Jammu, December 20: Seriously noting the frequent occurrence of road accidents in the hilly area of the Chenab valley, a division of the Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh High Court, comprising Acting Chief Justice Tashi Rabstan and Justice Rajesh Sekhri, has Directs the government to form a Committee of Experts (CoE) to determine the cause and submit an Actiond Report (ATR) by or before the next hearing.
On December 17, Asif Iqbal Butt, a social activist from Kahara, Doda district, wrote a letter to the J&K and Ladakh High Court Chief Justice, asking the suo-moto to hear the increasing number of road accidents in the Chenab Valley hilly area.
To the attention of the chief justice, the tragic news of the frequent accidents that have claimed hundreds of lives for decades, with almost no accidents on a weekly basis, has caused panic among the local population, but no concrete steps have been taken by government agencies to Stop the misfortune.
The letter, which is being treated as a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) and merged with the PIL titled Intakhab Ahmed Qazi with J&K State and others, raises the issue regarding the Mughal road accident.
When PIL, registered on the basis of the letter addressed to the Chief Justice, appeared for the hearing, DB observed, “The letter raised concerns that government agencies were not taking appropriate measures in the long and short term to prevent such unfortunate accidents. The letter highlighted The matter has a seriousness of public interest”.
Therefore, DB made an application to the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir through the Secretary to the Commissioner of the Ministry of PW (R&B), Secretary to the Commissioner of the Ministry of Transport, Chief of Police, Inspector General of Traffic, Jammu Police, Chief Engineer R&B Jammu, Assistant Regional Traffic Officer Doda, Assistant Regional Traffic Officer Kishtwar, National Highway and Infrastructure Development Company Limited (NHIDCL) Project Director, Beacon Project Chief Engineer and Sampark Project Chief Engineer were among the party interviewees.
Lawyer Sheikh Shakeel Ahmed, who assisted PIL’s Chamber Judge Intakhab Ahmed Qazi Versus State and Others, was also appointed as amicus curiae of the new PIL. He brought to the attention of the Divisional Judge that three people were feared dead in a road accident this morning in which an unlucky vehicle (car) fell into the Chenab River in the Dagando area.
He informed the divisional judges that the terrain in Himachal Pradesh is worse than that in Jammu and Kashmir, but accidents in the adjoining state are still rare compared to the hilly areas of J&K, especially Chenab Valley. “This is mainly because the Himachal Pradesh government has taken several short- and long-term measures to prevent road accidents, but the J&K government is still in a deep sleep,” he added.
Therefore, DB issued notices to all respondents, which were also accepted by Senior Deputy Attorney-General Monika Kohli, Deputy Attorney-General RS Jamwal, Deputy Attorney-General Dewakar Sharma.
The DB has also directed the government to form an expert committee to determine the causes of repeated traffic accidents on the Batote-Doda-Kishtwar road. “The commission should come up with measures that will help avoid road accidents,” the DB said.
Further instructions were issued to Commissioner’s Secretary R&B and Chief Engineer for Beacon and Sampark projects to erect rolling barriers/steel columns on curving roads and wherever culverts are found through the Batote-Doda-Kishtwar road.
The DB said and directed the Registry to provide counsel with the full file of this petition along with a copy of this order, “the accused who directed that should file a report of actions taken on or before the next hearing” for the respondent as well as amicus curiae.
In the letter to the Chief Justice, it was mentioned that the condition of the roads in Doda, Kishtwar and Ramban areas was dilapidated and required immediate attention. Mountains of gravel on the side of the road, driving without a license, reckless driving, drunk driving and traffic violations are common features of these roads, read the letter.
“Due to the narrow upstream road and many blind bends, the installation of rolling barriers is essential to reduce the severity of the accident,” the letter said, adding, “to establish a sound road infrastructure, implement relevant recommendations for road safety and ensure strict compliance with traffic conditions.” Rules are imperative.”