It was a matter of time. Exasperated with the slapdash repairs carried out from time to time and the wretched state of roads, a group of lawyers has filed criminal complaints against municipal commissioners of seven cities – including Pune and Nagpur – from the state. In Pune, the case will be heard by Judicial Magistrate (First Class) Sachin Munde in the Corporation Court.
The complaint has been filed under section 431 of Bombay Provincial Municipal Corporation (BPMC) Act, 1949. The advocates have requested the court to try the ‘accused’ according to the provisions of the Indian Penal Code, under section 166 (public servant disobeying law, with intent to cause injury to any person).
Socio-legal activist and advocate Vikas Shinde is the one who’s lodged the complaint against Pune’s municipal commissioner Mahesh Pathak. His plaint has been supported through affidavit by advocate Neha Pathak, advocate Vinda Raut-Mahajan, law students Pratap Vitankar, Aparna Kulkarni, Alka Babladi and Tejaswini Pandit, senior citizen Dilip Dharmadhikari, and social activist Sanjay Jadhav.
Speaking to MiD DAY advocate Shinde said, “The roads in Pune are not in accordance with the criteria decided by Indian Road Congress (IRC) and people are facing various problems because of this. The dismal condition of roads is a denial of exercising right to life with human dignity.
The potholes are also infringement of health rights of common people.” “We have requested the court to initiate an inquiry to fix the criminal liability against the commissioner. The administration of the road department is mainly responsible for the substan- dard work carried out.
There is problem in the non-transparent tender system through which the construction of roads is being done by private agencies. But the surprising part is that the civic body has not taken any strict action against such firms, which clearly shows that there is an element of corruption beneath the bad roads,” he added.
Advocates Smita Sarode-Singalkar (Nagpur), Savita Khotare (Akola), Amit Shinde (Sangli), Rajpal Singh Shinde (Nashik), Santosh Sangolkar (Jalgaon), and Namrata Biradar (Latur) have also filed Public Interest Litigations in the form of complaints before municipal courts of their respective cities against the civic chiefs. When asked for his reaction, Mahesh Pathak said, “I haven’t received a copy of the complaint. I will respond only after that.”
What the petitioner wants
>> Directions be issued against the commissioner of PMC asking him to pay damages to replace shock absorber of his motorcycle costing Rs 2,000, compensation of Re 1, and Rs5,000 for the litigation.
>> The commissioner may be directed to personally monitorthe removal of nuisance of bad roads and potholes.
>> The consultants of PMC constructing the roads need to be penalised, as they failed to keep in check the quality of the road works.