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Wednesday, January 19, 2022

No bus driver must drive for over 8 hrs at a stretch: HC

Justice Monga added, “Section 13 of the Act (supra) also makes it very clear that no driver is to drive at a stretch for more than 8 hours and cannot be made to drive over 48 hours in a week.

Written by Jagpreet Singh Sandhu | Chandigarh |
January 5, 2022 6:28:06 am
The Bench of Justice Arun Monga was hearing the petition filed by Pardeep, a driver in the Haryana Roadways. (Representational)

The Punjab and Haryana High Court (HC) while disposing of a plea filed by a Haryana roadways bus driver has held that “no driver is to drive at a stretch of more than 8 hours and cannot be made to drive over 48 hours in a week.”

The Bench of Justice Arun Monga was hearing the petition filed by Pardeep, a driver in the Haryana Roadways.

The petitioner through his counsel, Ravi Sharma had sought for quashing of the administrative order dated November 20, 2018, on the ground that the same is in violation of Section 13 of the Motor Transporters Workers Act, 1961, inasmuch as it authorises an employer to make a driver do a duty on a continuous stretch of 12 hours in a day as against maximum 10 hours, prescribed in the Act, ibid.
The petitioner also submitted that drivers in the Haryana Roadways are being made to drive without being provided with any rest after every 5 hours of driving, as per Section 15 of the Act.

Justice Monga held that it seems that the intent of the order dated November 20, 2018, herein is not to deny the drivers of the statutory rights which are in larger general public interest so as to avoid accidents being caused due to physical and/or mental fatigue caused by long stretches of driving. At the same time, the intent of impugned order seems to be to curb the unnecessary race among the drivers to indulge in working overtime so as to earn extra money but at the same time defeat the very purpose of avoiding the accidents caused due to fatigue. Needless to say that working overtime would naturally result in working beyond the hours as envisaged under the statute (supra), said the Bench.

Justice Monga added, “Section 13 of the Act (supra) also makes it very clear that no driver is to drive at a stretch for more than 8 hours and cannot be made to drive over 48 hours in a week. It is expected of the competent authority that the impugned order shall be implemented in letter and spirit, without violating the aforesaid mandatory provisions and in the ordinary course the drivers employed by the transport department would be made to drive on day-to-day basis not beyond 10 hours and in that manner, 48 hours be staggered over a week.”

Needless to say, when on long stretches the aforesaid explanation would entitle a driver to take extra rest as stated in the impugned order itself, apart from being given half an hour break after every 5 hours of driving, said Justice Monga, while disposing of the petition.

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