Thursday, May 21, 2015

Pothole Free Road is fundamental right - Bombay High Court

Year 2006-

High Court a two-judge bench in 2006 said, citizens' right to pothole-free roads is a fundamental right under right to life which creates corresponding obligation in all the authorities which are "state" under the Constitution

Year 2013 –

Bombay High Court took the suo motu PIL 

Justice Gautam Patel wrote to Chief Justice Mohit Shah to highlight the plight of motorists and pedestrians in Mumbai given the "pathetic'' condition of its potholed roads.

In a landmark interim order, the Bombay high court held that right to good roads is a fundamental right of citizens under right to life and held that it was the state's statutory obligation to provide good roads.

"It is high time that all concerned clearly understand that a right to have properly maintained roads is a part of the fundamental right guaranteed by Article 21 of the Constitution of India and in the event any loss is caused due to its violation, the citizens have a right to seek compensation,''

Bench directed the civic administrations in Mumbai, Thane and three other municipalities in Thane district, as well as the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) and Mumbai Port Trust (MbPT) to maintain all roads under their control and keep them pothole-free.

The HC laid down a detailed mechanism outlining legal obligations of all the authorities. On the duty to maintain smooth roads, the HC directed that "it is the mandatory duty of municipal corporations and other authorities like MMRDA and MbPT to construct, maintain and improve public streets.''

Citizens have a right to complain about poor roads, especially potholes on the roads.

"There has to be a dedicated website to receive and track complaints and their effective redressal,''
"The third aspect is of the use of proper technology for the construction of the roads, for maintenance and for filling the potholes,''
"The legal obligation of MSRDC is to maintain the roads and bridges in proper condition and to repair the same effectively.

It is its obligation to address the grievances of the citizens and to ensure the same are redressed if not within 15 days, but at least within a reasonable time,''

The HC directed that the BMC and all other authorities must construct roads and fill potholes "scientifically" and while permitting digging of any road, the agency's name and duration must be prominently displayed at the site.

All municipal corporations as well as the MMRDA, MSRDC and MbPT shall provide a mechanism for citizens to complain about poor road conditions through mails and photos at designated centres, toll free numbers, and dedicated websites and SMS services through the year

The HC called for compliance with regard to a set of directions by July 6. The agencies which will have to report back include the BMC, MbPT, the MSRDC and MMRDA.


Pothole-free roads and properly levelled footpaths are fundamental rights of every citizen, guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution, and in the event any loss caused due to its violation, the citizens have the right to seek compensation."

"It is the obligation of the authorities concerned to maintain the footpaths properly levelled and in such a condition that it can be conveniently used by pedestrians. This aspect cannot be taken lightly by any authority," the High Court said.

As of now the BMC has a helpline that operates for just four months (June 7-Oct 7). This, the court held, was not correct. The government and agencies should act on the complaint withing two weeks and post on the websites the action taken report. "Unless there is an effective mechanism provided to the citizens to file complaints they will not be in a position to enforce their constitutional as well as legal right to have well-maintained streets," the bench observed.

The court held that the authorities cannot put the blame on monsoon for the bad roads as the monsoon is normally heavy in the city. It directed the government to file affidavits to state the measures taken to ensure quality of the road maintenance works. It also directed the state and authorities to issue a circular to its officials dealing with the works that the failure to maintain the public roads, footpaths and bridges may lead to loss of precious lives, loss of valuable working hours and fuel, apart from causing inconvenience to the public. The circular should also caution that disciplinary action will be initiated against the erring officials.

The High Court will further hear the matter on July 10.


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