SC imposes Rs 25K fine on Centre for not responding to PIL
"Innocents are dying from haphazardly parked vehicles, protruding rods from trucks and for three years you did not change law or respond,” a SC bench observed.
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday came down heavily on the Centre and imposed a fine of Rs 25,000 on it for not replying to a plea seeking framing of guidelines for vehicles carrying protruding objects like iron rods and stationary ones which cause thousands of fatal mishaps across the country.
"Innocents are dying from haphazardly parked vehicles, protruding rods from trucks and for three years you did not change law or respond.
"Due to your indifference, thousands of people are losing their lives. How can you ask for more time? You have not filed counter affidavit for more than a year," a bench headed by Chief Justice T S Thakur said observed while hearing a PIL filed by NGO Save Life Foundation.
Initially, the bench, also comprising Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, imposed a fine of Rs 50,000 on the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways and reacted sharply when the lawyer sought a lenient approach and more time.
"Is this a panchayat going on here? If you ask one more time then the cost would be Rs one lakh," it responded, forcing Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi to intervene to save the day for the lawyer representing the Centre in the case.
"Please grant one more opportunity," Rohatgi pleaded.
The court then scaled down the fine to Rs 25,000 and granted four weeks time to the Centre to file the response.
"Despite final opportunity granted for the purpose in terms of our order dated October 30, 2015, the counsel appearing for Union of India has not chosen to file any counter affidavit. The Attorney General who appears today seeks one more opportunity to do the needful finally.
"Four weeks' time is granted to the respondent - Union of India -- for filing counter affidavit subject to the condition of payment of Rs 25,000 as costs to be deposited in the Supreme Court Advocates on Record Welfare Trust. Rejoinder affidavit, if any, be filed within one week thereafter," it said.
At the outset, the Centre said that it has changed the law with regard to vehicles carrying protruding objects as they can only carry such objects protruding one metre more than the size of the vehicles.
"You are the biggest litigant on the planet and this is your conduct. You have not filed the reply for so many years," the bench said, adding that the government, which does not respond, blames judiciary for the delay.