Published on: 09 August 2023 at 12:02 IST
The Kerala High Court ruled in Siraj V. State of Kerala that bus owners and employees are prohibited from discriminating against students while boarding buses solely because they are paying concession rates.
The decision was reached during the consideration of three related criminal miscellaneous cases filed under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (Cr.PC).
In a ruling by Justice P.V. Kunhikrishnan, it was emphasized that as long as student concessions are in effect, bus owners and employees are not permitted to treat students differently while boarding buses merely due to their utilization of concession rates.
The judgment stressed that students and other passengers should be treated equally, and the responsibility lies with the police to ensure that no law and order issues arise in connection with this matter.
The court also suggested that student organizations and the government should address the changing dynamics and issues arising in this context.
Advocates Anil Sivaraman and Sreedhar Ravindran represented the petitioner/accused, while PP Maya M.N. appeared on behalf of the respondent/State.
In the cases under consideration, the petitioners were conductors of three buses, accused of wrongfully preventing students from boarding their buses.
Subsequently, they allegedly conducted the bus services without allowing these students to board, leading to charges under Section 190(2) read with Section 196 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 (MV Act).
The petitioners challenged the proceedings in court, arguing that the allegations against them did not constitute an offense, even if fully accepted.
The central issue to determine was whether the offense under Section 190(2) read with Section 196 of the MV Act was applicable based on the given allegations.
The High Court highlighted a concerning pattern among the employees of private stage carriage buses and public transport, where students were often denied access to buses at various bus stops and terminals in Kerala.
This trend frequently resulted in law and order disturbances in multiple locations.
The State police chief was directed to issue appropriate instructions to prevent law and order issues stemming from conflicts between students and bus employees.
However, the Court concluded that no offense was established in the cases at hand, thus allowing the criminal miscellaneous pleas and dismissing the proceedings before the Magistrate.