Bengaluru: The Karnataka High Court has mandated the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) to deploy public address/voice announcement systems in its entire bus fleet by April 15.
A division bench headed by Chief Justice Prasanna B Varale and Justice Krishna S Dixit issued the direction over a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by Shreyas, an advocate and a visually impaired person, who runs NGO Shreyas Global Trust for Social Cause.
Shreyas, a Bengaluru resident, submitted that though audio announcements were available in some buses earlier, it was abruptly stopped or discontinued.
During the hearing, the counsel representing the BMTC said that 58 per cent of the buses have been fitted with PA systems to inform people of the forthcoming stops, while 2,562 vehicles do not have the facility.
Of these, the corporation plans to junk 1,141 buses in phases in the next six months and replace them with 921 electric vehicles, which will have the audio announcement facility, the counsel added.
“Accordingly, we permit the corporation to complete the further exercise of the procurement of the buses with systems (audio announcement) installed in the buses till April 15, 2024. Let the matter be listed for filing a compliance report on April 18, 2024. We further make it clear that no ground/no excuse would be granted by this court to this timeline,” the bench said.
The state government placed before the court a December 19 notification it had issued, ensuring certain facilities for people with disabilities in both public and private transport services, including providing audio announcements for people with vision challenge.
Additional Advocate General (AAG) Vikram Huilgol cited the notification in informing the court that RTO officers are required to ensure all stage carriers, both public and private, have audio announcement systems and other facilities for people with disability at the time of registration/renewal of permits for the buses by June 30, 2024.
The AAG also said a circular to this effect will be issued immediately to make sure there is no ambiguity in the matter. He said installing audio announcements will be a pre-condition for plying the vehicle, including existing ones.
(Published 20 December 2023, 21:52 IST)