Following the State Haryana Transport department’s crackdown on bus drivers and conductors who were found smoking on the route, the Chandigarh Consumer Forum dismissed the complaint of a Haryana resident seeking relief under the Consumer Act, by holding that “old habits die hard”.
The complainant, Ashok Kumar Prajapat of Hisar, had said that he faced uneasiness due to a Haryana roadways’ bus driver, who was smoking while driving the bus.
In reply to Prajapat’s complaint, Director General of the Haryana State Transport, Chief Secretary of Government of Haryana and Commissioner of Haryana State Transport jointly said that according to the bus conductor Prem Singh, when he checked the driver on Prajapat’s complaint, he did not find the driver smoking. However, when the conductor tried to clarify the same to the complainant that no one in the bus was smoking, the complainant indulged into arguments and allegedly threatened them.
According to the checking staff SIs Mewa Singh and Bir Singh, during the checking, no passenger was found smoking and the driver and the conductor were also not smoking. They also affirmed that a warning sign saying No Smoking was put up on all the buses of the Transport department.
After hearing the plea of the Haryana State Transport officials, the forum had held, “There does not appear to be any deficiency on the part of the State of Haryana. It is an established fact that smoking is injurious to health, but to eradicate this evil in the society, the individual themselves have to rise to the occasion through their strong will power to leave this evil. By force or compulsion, hundred per cent success in uprooting this social evil is impossible. There is known a proverb that old habits die hard.”
In a separate reply, the government of Haryana had said that the Haryana State Transport was serious about the issue and was committed to providing an efficient, reliable, safe, healthy and timely journey to the passengers of the Haryana Roadways buses. It said that the Transport department had appointed nodal officers in each depot of the Haryana Roadways for checking/preventing smoking. At least 27 nodal officers were appointed in the department and their names and mobile numbers were duly circulated. The inspection teams also checked the buses and appropriate actions was being taken against offenders. Special drives were also being conducted throughout across bus stands and buses.
Dr Rajpal Sekhon, State Nodal Officer (National Tobacco control Programme), National Health Mission Haryana, Panchkula, in his affidavit, said that Haryana has taken coordinated steps in establishing committees, task forces at state and district levels in the matter.
Prajapat had said that incident took place when he was travelling in a Haryana State Transport bus from Bhiwani depot in Jind to Hisar. During the journey, the driver of the bus was smoking and he did not stop despite interventions, even as Prajapat felt uneasy. Prajapat said that he requested the driver to stop smoking but the driver misbehaved with him. As Prajapat approached the conductor and the bus inspector, they supported the driver and encouraged him to smoke.