WRIT PETITION No.29625 OF 2011
C.G.Swamy and another.
The A.P.S.R.T.C. represented by its Managing Director, Hyderabad and others.
Counsel for the petitioner : Sri S.A.K.Mynoddin.
^Standing Counsel for A.P.S.R.T.C.: K.V.Subbarao.
The writ petitioners are questioning the action of the respondents compelling them to perform the dual job of conductor and driver with TIMS machine and seeking a direction to the respondents not to insist the petitioners to perform the dual job of drivers and conductors with TIMS services. The first petitioner filed an affidavit and stated that he is authorized to depose on behalf of the second petitioner also.
The brief case of the petitioners as seen from the affidavit and from the arguments of their learned counsel is as follows:
The first petitioner was appointed as driver on 7-3-1997 in Badvel depot, The second petitioner was appointed as driver in the month of May, 1999 and has been working in Jammalamadugu depot. They are appointed as drivers under direct recruitment process as per the regulations. The required qualification is 5th class and they must be able to read and write in a regional language i.e., Telugu or Urudu. They must possess a valid driving licence for driving a Heavy Passenger Motor Vehicles, issued by R.T.A. In respect of conductors, the requisite qualification is one must have passed SSC or its equivalent examination and must possess conductor's licence issued by the R.T.A. The conductor job is highly sensitive and responsible job. They are responsible for cash transaction with the passengers. Their job involves calculation of combination of tickets, luggage tickets, checking of bus passes, concessional passes, CAT cards and verification of their validity period and they will be held responsible if any cash or ticket irregularity is noticed. Their job, the source of livelihood would be in risk for any kind of lapse or inaction on their part. Moreover, they have to deal with the passengers. The petitioners' further case is that they are not duly trained to work as conductors and they have no standard of the required educational qualification to hold the post of conductors.
Counter affidavit has been filed on behalf of the
According to the counter affidavit filed on behalf of the respondents, the respondents' case is that the management of the corporation has taken a policy decision to introduce the ticket in issue machine services in A.P.S.R.T.C in a long distance bus services in order to utilize the man power effectively. A notification was exhibited on the notice boards of the Depots, duly calling for the willingness for the drivers for operation of TIM Service. No requisite educational qualification has been prescribed for operating TIM Machines. Requisite practical training has been given to the petitioners on how to operate the TIMS and upon giving training, the petitioners are placed on the Bus Services with Ticket Issuing Machines. The petitioners have been performing their duties regularly from the month of January, 2010 onwards and they are placed in a separate duty chart laid down for TIM drivers. The petitioners are not forced to perform the said duties and that they have availed benefits of TIM service drivers such as T.A, D.A. N/O allowances and TIM Commission. It is also denied that the operating TIM service and driving i.e., performing dual duties has been leading to tension. Such drivers have been given special type Bus services only on long distance routes. TIM operation is consisting of three steps function i.e., "Issue", "Close" and "Start" and therefore, the drivers have to complete the issue tickets at the stages provided and sufficient time is provided to them apart from training for issuing tickets. In such long distance route buses, most of the seats booked under "Advance Reservation" by the passengers, the ration of ticket purchasing passengers is very less. Two drivers in such a long distance passengers are being provided to share the duties as per their convenience.
Sri S.A.K.Mynoddin, learned counsel for the petitioners submits that the safety of the passengers is in the hands of the driver and if their concentration is disturbed for any reason, it may result in an accident and thereby, safety of the passengers will be endanger. It is also his submission that the action of the respondents is violating the several provisions of the Motor vehicles Act, It is also his submission that drivers have no knowledge as to how to fill up the S.Rs. or maintain record.
Sri K.V.Subbarao, learned Standing Counsel for the respondents submits that the respondent-corporation has taken a policy decision and whenever a policy decision is taken, the courts will not interfere in such a decision. It is also his submission that as far as the petitioners are concerned, they have voluntarily given their consent to work as conductors and in view of the scheme formulated by the respondent-corporation, two drivers are provided in case of long distance and 80% of the tickets are booked in advance and that the drivers who does dual duty as driver and conductor are given incentive. It is also submitted that as far as the petitioners are concerned, they have been performing their duties since January, 2010 to November, 2010 and now they have come up with this writ petition.
The learned counsel for the petitioners submitted that the petitioners have sent several representations to the 3rd respondent-corporation on 23-04- 2011, 18-10-2011 and 24-10-2011 requesting to allow them to perform the duties of drivers only and they have also explained the difficulties faced by them while performing their duties of conductors as well as drivers simultaneously. The only point that arises for consideration is whether the respondents' action is justified in directing the petitioners to perform the dual job of conductor and driver.
It may be useful to refer the some of the provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 (herein after referred to as "the Act"). Sub-section 5 of Section 2 of the Act reads as under: ""Conductor" in relation to a stage carriage, means a person engaged in collecting fares from passengers, regulating their entrance into, or exit from, the stage carriage and performing such other functions as may be prescribed"
Sub-section 6 of Section 2 of the Act reads as under: ""Conductor's licence" means the licence issued by a competent authority under Chapter III authorizing the person specified therein to act as a conductor."
Sub-section 9 of Section 2 of the Act reads as under: "Driver" includes, in relation to a motor vehicle which is drawn by another motor vehicle, the person who acts as a steersman of the drawn vehicle." Sub-Section 1 of Section 29 of the Act deals with the conductors licence and it is as follows:
"No person shall act as a conductor of a stage carriage unless he holds an effective conductor's licence issued to him authorizing him to act such conductor; and no person shall employ of permit any person who is not so licenced to act as a conductor of a stage carriage.
Sub-section 2 of Section 29 of the Act reads as follows: "A state Government may prescribe the conditions subject to which sub-section (1) shall not apply to a driver of a stage carriage performing the functions of a conductor or to a person employed to act as a conductor for a period not exceeding one month."
Subsections 1 to 5 respectively of Section 30 reads as follows: (1) "Any person who possesses such minimum educational qualification as may be prescribed by the State Government and is not disqualified under sub- section (1) of Section 31 and who is not for the time being disqualified for holding or obtaining a conductor's licence may apply to the licensing authority having jurisdiction in the area in which he ordinarily resides or carries on business for the issue to him of a conductor's licence."
(2) "Every application under sub-section (1) shall be in such form and shall contain such information as may be prescribed." (3) "Every application for a conductor's licence shall be accompanied by a medical certificate in such form as may be prescribed, signed by a registered medical practitioner and shall also be accompanied by two clear copies of a recent photograph of the applicant."
(4) "A conductor's licence issued under this Chapter shall be in such form and contain such particulars as may be prescribed and shall be effective throughout the State in which it is issued."
(5) "The fee for a conductor's licence and for each renewal thereof shall be one-half of that for a driving licence."
Section 125 of the Act reads as follows:
"No person driving a motor vehicle shall allow any person to stand or sit or to place anything in such a manner or position as to hamper the driver in his control of the vehicle."
Rule 31 of the Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989 reads as under: "The driver of a public service vehicle on duty,- (i) shall not cause or allow any person, animal or thing to be placed or to be in the space reserved for the driver's seat in accordance with Rule 337 or otherwise in such a way as to impede him in having a clear vision of the road or proper control of the vehicle.
(ii) shall not shout in order to attract a passenger;
(iii) shall, subject to any rules or regulations in force prohibiting the taking up or setting down of passengers at, or except at certain specified places, bring the vehicle rest for a sufficient period of time in safe and convenient position (a) upon the demand or signal of the conductor or of any passenger desiring to alight from the vehicle, and (b) unless there is no room in the vehicle upon the demand or signal of any person desiring to become a passenger.
(iv) shall not, when brining his vehicle to rest for the purpose of picking up or setting down any passenger at or near the place where another public service vehicle is at rest for the same purpose, drive the vehicle so as to endanger, inconvenience or interfere with the driver or the conductor of the other vehicle or any person mounting or preparing to mount thereon or alighting there from, and shall bring his vehicle to rest in from or behind the other vehicle and on the left hand side of the road or place;
(v) shall at all times exercise all reasonable care and diligence to maintain his vehicle in a fit and proper condition and shall not drive the vehicle when any break, tyre or lamp thereof is in a defective condition likely to endanger any passenger or other person or when there is not sufficient fuel in the vehicle to enable him to reach the next fueling station on the route;
(vi) shall, as far as may be reasonably possible having regard to his duties, be responsible for the observance of the provisions of the Act and of these rules; (vii)shall not smoke;
(viii) shall behave in a civil and orderly manner;
(ix) shall wear as uniform a closed coat with brass buttons and trousers of white or khaki or navy blue colour and also forge cap of the same colour as head gear.
(x) shall maintain the vehicle in a clean and sanitary condition;
(xi) shall not interfere with persons mounting or preparing to mount upon any other vehicle; and
(xii) shall not loiter or unduly delay upon any journey but shall proceed to his destination as near as may be in accordance with the time table pertaining to the vehicle or where there is no such time - table, with all reasonable dispatch."
Rule 33 of A.P. Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989 reads as follows: "The driver of a public service vehicle on which there is no conductor due to certain unavoidable circumstances mentioned in Rule 72 shall be responsible for the observance of the provisions of rule 73 and Clauses (vii) to (xi) of Rule 74".
Rule 72 of A.P. Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989 reads as follows: "No stage carriage shall be used in a public place unless it carries in addition to the driver a conductor.
Provided that a stage carriage may be driven to its destination without a conductor if, on account of sudden illness or for any other valid reason, the conductor is unable to carry on his duties.
Provided further that transport authority may allow a stage carriage to be driven without a conductor subject to the condition that tickets are issued before the start of the journey by a person who is not the conductor and who is not traveling in the vehicle and subject to such other conditions as the transport authority may deem fit.
Provided also that a transport authority may permit the driver of a stage carriage to perform the functions of a conductor subject to the condition that he is qualified to hold the post of a conductor and subject to such other conditions as the transport authority may deem fit.
(Provided also that a Transport Authority may permit the driver of a stage carriage to perform the functions of a conductor by issuing tickets through Ticket Issuing Machines subject to such other conditions as the Transport Authority may deem fit.)"
Rule 73 of A.P. Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989 reads as follows:
"No conductor or other person authorized to accept fares, when a stage carriage is waiting or plying for hire shall:-
" without reasonable excuse, refuse to accept a fare from any person tendering it, provided that the conductor or such other person shall stop the issue of tickets when the maximum number of passengers or the maximum load or luggage or goods, as the case may be, which the vehicle is permitted to carry has been reached; or
" demand more than the proper fare."
Rule 74 of A.P. Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989 reads as follows: "Every conductor of a stage carriage on duty,
(i) shall as far as may reasonably be possible having regard to his duties, be responsible for the due observance of the provisions of Act and of these rules;
(ii)shall not smoke;
(iii) shall behave in a civil and orderly manner to passengers and intending passengers;
(iv) shall wear a uniform a closed coat with brass buttons and trousers of khaki or navy blue colour and also a forage cap of the same colour as head gear.
Provided that in the case of employees of Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation the uniform fixed by the Corporation shall be worn;
" shall maintain the vehicle in a clean and sanitary condition;
" shall not interfere with persons mounting or preparing to mount upon any other vehicle.
" shall not solicit custom save in a civil and quiet manner;
" shall not allow any person to be carried in any stage carriage in excess of the capacity specified in the permit of the vehicle;
" shall not, save for good and sufficient reason, refuse to carry any person tendering the legal fare;
" shall, where luggage and personal effects of passengers are carried on the vehicle in addition to passengers, take all reasonable precautions to ensure that passengers are not endangered or unduly inconvenienced by the presence of the luggage and personal effects;
" shall not, save for good and sufficient reason, require any person who has paid the legal fare to alight from the vehicle before the conclusion of the journey;
" shall not loiter or unduly delay on any journey;
" shall, in the event of the stage carriage being unable to proceed to its destination on account of mechanical breakdown or other cause beyond the control of the driver or the conductor, arrange to convey the passengers to their destination in some other similar vehicle or, if unable to do so arrange within two hours after the failure of the vehicle, shall on demand refund to each passenger a proper proportion of the fare relating to the completion of the journey for which the passenger has paid the fare;
" shall not, in the case of a stage carriage, cause or allow anything to be placed in the vehicle in such a manner as to obstruct the entry or exit of passengers;
" shall take all reasonable precautions to prevent luggage being miscarried or lost or damaged on the way and shall be reasonable for the safe custody and delivery of the luggage kept on the luggage carrier on the roof of the vehicle;
" shall not be under the influence of drink or of a drug;
" shall call upon every passenger to declare the journey he intends to perform and demand from him the fare chargeable therefore and shall not allow any passenger to alight or attempt to alight without collecting the fare payable and without issuing a ticket therefore.
But nothing herein shall apply to passenger who holds a pass or who need not pay the fare on account of bus warrants issued under and in accordance with the rules in force."
There are some other provisions which prescribe limitations of speed under Section112 of the Motor Vehicles Act,1988.
The drivers have to follow the rules prescribed while driving the vehicles. They should be careful while crossing the railway level crossings. All these rules have been laid only with a view to see that the passengers reach their destinations safely. So, the safety of the passengers has to be given paramount importance rather than any other thing. It is not in dispute that the conductors require higher educational qualifications than the drivers. It is only with a view to see that they perform their duties effectively. It is not in dispute that the conductors have to issue combination ticket, luggage tickets, and they have to verify the bus passes concessional passes and after completing the tickets, they have to make necessary entries in the S.Rs. Thus, ultimately they will be responsible for issuance of tickets to the passengers and to all the cash transactions. Therefore, it appears that a person who has to perform the duties of a conductor requiring licence under the provisions of the Act as referred above.
It is also not in dispute that the regular conductors have been given necessary training in this regard. It is also not in dispute that the drivers have to concentrate on driving. They must carefully observe the traffic and the movements of the other vehicles, persons, animals. Several persons do not follow the traffic rules. Some suddenly cross the road. Many try to overtake from wrong side. The drivers of two wheelers and others do not follow the traffic rules and many will be driving while talking on with their cell phones. Persons cross the road while playing with their cell phones. In the above circumstances, utmost concentration is required to be paid by the driver. Any account of thinking process may disturb their concentration. Therefore, keeping in view the ultimate safety of the passengers, the Corporation has to make their policies and implement the schemes.
Moreover, the above referred provisions make it clear that no person shall act as a conductor unless he holds a required licence under Section 29 (1). The drivers and conductors have separate duties and responsibilities as per the above referred provisions. The action of the corporation in allotting duties of conductors to the drivers has been violating Section 29 (1) and Rule 72 as referred above. In the name of policy decision, the corporation cannot violate the provisions of the M.V.Act,1988 or the Rules made thereunder. Any action which violates the provisions of any act or Rule or endangers lives of passenger is illegal. In fact, such course of action violate the right to life guaranteed to the passengers and Road users since the driver cannot concentrate on driver. It is human experience that thinking whole driving results in accidents. No driver can concentrate on driving and at the same time observe the passengers. If any passenger misbehaves with lady passenger or smokes, the driver has to stop the bus to prevent such incident. Therefore, unless a person is extraordinary, it may not be possible to perform dual duties. Even if some of the drivers come forward voluntarily to undertake duties of the conductor and even if two drivers have been provided in the long distance for the vehicles, it appears that the corporation is not justified in allowing the duties of the conductors to the drivers in view of the safety of road users and passengers. The reason for sending two conductors in long distance vehicles is to see that a driver after driving a vehicle continuously for four or five hours requires rest. It cannot be said that providing rest to driver can be dispensed with by allotting some other duty during the period of rest, it rather defeats the purpose of providing two drivers in long distance buses. Sri Subbarao, learned Standing counsel submitted that if this writ is allowed, several others may come forward with similar request and the corporation may face financial difficulty. That cannot be a ground to allow the corporation to continue an illegal act. It is for the corporation to think over and find out the ways and means to earn profits and how to prevent misuse of corporation funds. There are several suggestions and ways and means in this regard.
Of course Sri Subbarao, learned counsel is right in saying that in cases where all the tickets have been booked in advance in non-stop vehicles i.e., where there is no need to pick up the passengers in between stages, then in the above circumstances, the corporation appears to be justified in not allotting conductors in such buses. Therefore, except in the cases of non-stop buses and where all the tickets have been issued in advance booking and where there is no necessity to pick up any passenger till the bus reaches last destination, the Corporation is not justified in directing the drivers to perform the duties of conductors. It is clear that the said procedure is in violation of the above referred provision of the Motor Vehicles Act and Rules. Therefore, the respondents are directed not to insist the petitioners and other drivers to perform the dual job of drivers and conductors with TIMS services. Accordingly, the writ petition is allowed subject to the observations made supra. No costs.
_____________________B. CHANDRA KUMAR, J.