The State Transport Employees Federation (STEF), affiliated to the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), has filed a writ petition in the Madras High Court stating that many State Transport Corporation buses were being operated without conductors though it was mandatory to engage the services of the latter in every bus.
When the case came up for admission before Justice S.M. Subramaniam on Wednesday, he directed the government counsel to obtain instructions from the Transport Secretary by July 18. The judge wanted to know whether both mofussil as well as city buses were operated with drivers alone, as claimed by the federation.
In an affidavit filed in support of the writ petition, K. Arumuga Nainar, STEF general secretary, said that his was one of the largest unions with a membership of around 33,000 out of 1.45 lakh employees working in State Transport Corporations. He said the government had been operating the buses directly till 1975.
Thereafter, it entrusted the work to transport corporations. At present, there were six corporations (for Villupuram, Salem, Coimbatore, Kumbakonam, Madurai and Tirunelveli divisions), one metropolitan transport corporation for Chennai and a State Express Transport Corporation for operating buses.
The buses operated by these Corporations were bound to follow the provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act of 1988 and they fall under the definition of ‘stage carriage’ in the enactment. Sections 29 to 38 of the Act list out the statutory requirements for obtaining a licence to act as conductor and prescribes their duties.
Listing out the responsibilities of a conductor, the petitioner said: “He is responsible for maintaining the bus in a clean condition. He is responsible to ensure that buses do not carry passengers beyond the permitted seating capacity. It is his responsibility to ensure that goods carried in the buses do not cause inconvenience to the passengers.”
Although conductors were essential for buses, the transport corporations had begun to dispense with their services and started operating the new vehicles.
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