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Criticizing the transport corporations in the state for failing to serve the people & generate revenue for the government, the Madras high court has suo motu impleaded the transportsecretary & questioned whether the government can bring all transport corporations under the public-private partnership model to improve efficiency.

The Court asked the Govt. if it wants to denationalize the Public Transport Corporations. It also raised the issue of militant unionism & the need to appoint experts to enhance efficacy. The court raised the questions while hearing an appeal against a tribunal order awarding a compensation of ₹45 lakh to the family of a man killed in an accident involving an MTC bus. A division bench of Justice N Kirubakaran & Justice Krishnan Ramasamy enhanced the compensation to ₹1.06 crore after perusing the submissions.

Observing that transport corporations face similar problems as Govt. offices — corruption, inefficiency & political intervention — the court said reckless driving by some of the drivers of the corporations has led to loss of lives & payment of hefty compensation by the corporations.

After awarding the enhanced compensation in the present case, the Division Bench impleaded the transport secretary, director general of Police & the Chairman and managing directors of the Transport Corporations in the State. It also sought details on accidents involving state-owned transport corporation buses in the past 10 years.

The Court sought for details of lives lost & injured people, the number of claim petitions & amount awarded as compensation in the past 10 years by each transport corporation with annual breakup. It also wanted
details of departmental proceedings against drivers involved in accidents & the number of people convicted for the accidents in the past decade.
“Is it a fact that even in departmental proceedings initiated against workmen (drivers & conductors), in the inquiry proceedings, the management witnesses are turning hostile, thereby no action can be taken effectively against erring staff?” the said, & sought a response on the claims that trade union leaders are preventing officials from taking action against deviant staff.

The bench also sought for the percentage of absenteeism in each of the transport corporations for the past decade & whether accidents caused by the corporations’ buses are because of improper maintenance by successive governments. “Are substandard motor spare parts purchased for repairing buses resulting in mechanical failure?” the Court asked.

Justice N Kirubakaran & Justice Krishnan Ramasamy suggested the government appoint a committee of experts from various fields including management professionals & technocrats to find reasons for the losses & suggest remedial measures.

The transport secretary & others are to respond to the questions by Sep 5.


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