Law

Deaths Due to Potholes Are Unacceptable: Supreme Court

The number of deaths indicated that the authorities concerned were not maintaining the roads, the top court said.

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday expressed concern over 14,926 people being killed in road accidents due to potholes in last five years and termed it “unacceptable”.

A bench headed by Justice Madan B. Lokur said the number of deaths caused due to potholes across the country was “probably more than those killed on the border or by the terrorists”.

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The bench, also comprising justices Deepak Gupta and Hemant Gupta said the number of deaths from 2013 to 2017 in accidents due to potholes indicated that the authorities concerned were not maintaining the roads.

The bench sought a response from the Centre on a report filed by the Supreme Court Committee on Road Safety, headed by former apex court judge K.S. Radhakrishnan, on the number of deaths due to potholes in India.

Advocate Gaurav Agarwal, assisting the court as an amicus curiae in the matter, said the committee has filed a report on the issue following the apex court’s direction and consulted all the states.

He said the data on death in such accidents was based on the figures of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways.

The bench observed that many authorities like the municipal corporations, National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), concessionaires working with them or the state road departments would be responsible for these deaths as they were not maintaining the roads.

Referring to the number of deaths, the bench said, “This is absolutely a very high number and indicates that concerned authorities whether they are municipal corporations, state governments, NHAI and others are not maintaining the roads”.

The bench also observed that no compensation was paid to the victim’s family in such cases and legal representatives of the deceased have to “live with the unforeseen tragedy due to lack of concern shown by the authorities”.

It said no data was available before it about the number of persons injured in road accidents due to potholes and it was clear that “number of injured will be much much higher than the number of deaths”.

The apex court had in July termed as “frightening” the number of deaths in accident caused due to potholes on roads across the country and had observed that number of fatalities in such incidents was more than those in terror attacks.

While hearing a matter related to road safety in India, the bench had also said that persons who have lost their lives as a result of accidents caused due to potholes should be entitled to compensation.

The court is also dealing with issue of compensation paid to the victims of hit-and-run and road accidents.

It had also raised the issue of deaths in accidents due to potholes on roads, particularly in Mumbai, and said that according to reports there were around 4,000 potholes in Mumbai.

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