In a major embarrassment for civic bodies across Maharashtra, the Bombay High Court on Wednesday constituted a special bench, to oversee cases pertaining to potholes and poor road maintenance. The High Court, while constituting the special bench, said that it has been constrained to interfere in such administrative work only because of the ‘failure’ of the authorities.
A division bench of Chief Justice Manjula Chellur and Justice Mahesh Sonak said, “Several benches of this court have already heard this matter and have time and again passed orders for better roads. We think the authorities have done little to ensure the orders are implemented.”
“Accordingly, from now onwards, a special bench comprising Justice K R Shriram and Justice Girish Kulkarni will hear the matters pertaining to potholes and poorly maintained roads. The bench will pass appropriate orders as and when required,” CJ Chellur added.
According to the judge’s orders, the citizens will have to lodge complaints with the already constituted district committees regarding the poor quality of roads. These complaints would be then sent to the Maharashtra Legal Services Authority (MLSA), which will in turn forward the same to the special bench.
The judges even referred to the tragic death of Dr Amrapurkar, who had died in the deluge this year, after falling into an open manhole. CJ Chellur said, “In situations wherein people are rushing to their homes or when they are rushing their loved ones to a hospital during monsoon, one cannot expect them to be careful of potholes.
The only thing that can be done to avoid such incidents (like death of Dr Amrapurkar) is to maintain roads in a better manner.” The judges slammed the authorities for not complying with their previous orders. “We do not wish to interfere in monitoring the administration of the State but it is only because of the failure and apathy of the authorities, which have failed to do their duty. Let us clarify that the authorities are under an obligation to provide good quality roads to the citizens,” CJ Chellur said.
Meanwhile, the judges were informed that since August 3, only 180 complaints have been received by the Maharashtra Legal Services Authority.