KSRTC bus. Photo: Mathrubhumi Archives
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday asked the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) to come out with a proposal relating to an advertisement in buses and said that it will hear on Monday the state transport corporation against High Court directing to remove advertisements from buses.
The court asked KSRTC why they did not come up with a mechanism and suggested submitting a scheme regarding how they can do it in a phased manner.
A bench of Justices Surya Kant and JK Maheshwari indicated that it may protect KSRTC tentatively and said that in the meantime, they might come up with a proposal. The court also clarified that it will try to balance and list the matter for hearing on Monday.
The court was hearing a petition filed by Kerala State Road Transport Corporation through advocate-on-record Deepak Prakash.
Kerala State Road Transport Corporation has challenged the High Court of Kerala at Ernakulam dated December 9 2022 and October 14 2022.
Kerala High Court at Ernakulam on December 9 2022 ordered that the respondent Transport Commissioner, through the concerned Enforcement Officers in the motor vehicles Department shall ensure that two or three vehicles operated by KSRTC for Nilakkal-Pamba chain service, which are wrapped with advertisements, are not used for the transportation of pilgrims.
On October 14, 2022, the High Court directed that the Enforcement Officers in the Motor Vehicles Department and also the Police take necessary action against the vehicles owned/operated by KSRTC and KURTC which are used in public places after tampering with the percentage of visual transmission of light of the safety glass of the windscreen, rear window and side windows of such vehicles, either by pasting any material upon the safety glass or by fixing sliding cloth curtains etc. The HC has said that action shall also be taken for exhibiting advertisements, figures etc causing a distraction to the drivers of other vehicles and also cyclists and pedestrians on a public road.
According to the petition, Kerala State Road Transport Corporation, a Public Sector Undertaking established under Section 3 of the road transport corporation Act, 1950 and the only State-owned Road Transport Corporation within the State of Kerala, serves the public at large by providing road transport facilities at nominal rates.
"The Petitioner Corporation, despite running into huge losses with debt to the tune of Rs. 9,000 crores, runs his buses to solely provide transport services to the general public in the State, being the sole stage carrier which having permission for transport for the Sabarimala pilgrimage, for which approximately 500 buses are pooled.
70,000-1,00,000 lakh devotees are visiting Sabarimala temple on a daily basis owing to the auspicious time as it is the peak season and the Petitioner Corporation, being the only State-owned Transport corporation is responsible for providing the essential bus services to the General public at large, which is currently being hampered owing to the operations of the order dated December 9, 2022, passed by the High Court of Kerala at Ernakulam," read the petition.
The petition said that the operations of the impugned order are causing huge financial losses to the Corporation, on a daily basis, in a situation, wherein the Petitioner Corporation is already suffering from an extreme financial crunch for the past several years, having a liability of around Rs. 9000 crores.
The Petitioner Corporation said that it is operating through financial aid and funding from the State Government, without which, the Corporation would've shut down, causing inconvenience to the public at large, who depend upon the transport services provided by the Petitioner Corporation.