KSRTC approaches SC against HC order on advertisements in buses, says will result in Rs 1.5 cr loss

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KSRTC has approached the Supreme Court challenging an order of the Kerala High Court which directed the officers of the Motor Vehicles Department and the State Police to take action against KSRTC buses that exhibit advertisements. KSRTC informed the apex court that the order will result in a monthly loss of Rs 1.5 crore to the management which already stares at Rs 9,000 crore debt. It also requested the court to stay the HC order of October 2022 with immediate effect.

The special leave petition (SLP) moved by KSRTC pointed out that the division bench had not placed the matter before the Chief Justice of HC to assign it to the appropriate bench, thereby violating the procedure laid down by the Supreme Court. HC erred in attributing its own findings to a matter which pertains to public safety and policy, without any authentic supporting material, it said.

"In all the major cities buses are carrying advertisements in its body and all over the world public and private buses carry different types of pictures or inscriptions in the body of the buses. There is no scientific data available to show that advertisement in the body of the bus creates distraction to the pedestrians, cyclists and drivers of other buses, no experts conducted any study or submitted any report before the Hon'ble High Court in this regard," read the appeal.

KSRTC highlighted that it is operating services as per MVD rules. The advertisements in 545 buses were pasted on the basis of government order and on the backdrop of HC ruling.

The October 2022 order of HC was passed by a division bench on the basis of suo motu proceedings initiated by it in the wake of the Vadakkencherry bus accident in which nine persons, including five school children died and over forty persons were injured. It noted that affixing such ads on the bodies of vehicles causes undue distractions to pedestrians and other drivers, and violates the provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act and Rules as well as the Court's directions.

Meanwhile, when financial crisis of KSRTC delayed salaries of its employees, HC had asked management to sell or mortgage its assets.

(With inputs from IANS)

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