The Madras High Court has issued notice to officials of the transport department in Tamil Nadu, asking whether the government would like to
denationalise the bus corporations.
The court on Friday issued the notice after finalising a civil miscellaneous petition by enhancing the compensation from Rs 45.29 lakh to Rs 1.06 crore in an accident case involving a government city bus.
It asked whether the government would like to denationalise the transport corporations, which was among the 25 queries that included details of accidents caused by transport corporations for the past 10 years and the lives lost in such accidents.
Having posed the query on nationalisation, a division bench comprising Justice N Kirubakaran and Justice Krishnan Ramasamy observed that the policy of nationalisation is an avowed one, but the experience in the country proves to be otherwise.
The bench observed that nationalisation is a populist, economical decision based on public ownership to take over the privately-owned enterprises, firms and companies for the public purpose contrary to laissez-faire.
The judges said banks were nationalised in 1969 by the then prime minister Indira Gandhi so that the government could control the financial institutions.
Similarly, the transport sector was also nationalised by which the buses belonging to individuals and companies were taken over by the government to run on its own by incorporating companies or corporations so that the transport facilities are made available throughout the country without driven by profit motive.
The bench said though 50 years of nationalisation of transport in Tamil Nadu gave many benefits like providing employment to thousands of people in public undertaking,
but it is found to be neither serving the people nor serving the economic interest of the government.
Many of the public undertakings of the central government have been denationalised as the nationalisation of those undertakings is not fruitful in the long run due to various reasons.
The bench, referring to the private buses, in its order, said, "When private owners are able to run the bus route and is able to make profit and multiply vehicles because of efficient handling of the affairs, including the courteous behaviour of the crew to the public, which is lacking in public transport."
This also results in people looking for owning their own vehicle for comfortable travel, it said.
The patronage of the public transport corporation is said to have come down for various reasons.
The bench referred to the traffic violations by many of the transport corporation drivers regularly and no action could be taken by police as the employees' trade unions indulge in a wild cat strike paralysing traffic and public life.
Turning to the civil miscellaneous petition filed by the widow of an accident victim, the court faulted the city bus driver for rash and negligent driving, and therefore enhanced the relief amount.
The matter relates to 41-year-old Shanmugam's death in an accident in 2011. He was riding his two-wheeler when he was fatally knocked down by a bus.
The bench directed the transport corporation to deposit the compensation amount by deducting the amount if any was paid already within a period of eight weeks before the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal.
The court then impleaded secretary to transport department, chairman-cum-managing director of State Transport Corporation and managers of all the divisions of Tamil Nadu State Corporations and issued notice to them before posting the matter for further hearing to September 5.