The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Court flies into road rage
- Govt, civic agencies warned of contempt slap

Road rage of a different kind swept Calcutta High Court on Tuesday, with a division bench hauling up the government and civic agencies for not doing enough to repair the city's potholed streets.

'We think the government is taking the order of the court on the condition of roads lightly,' observed Justice A. Kabir and Justice A.K. Bishi.

The division bench also asked the principal secretary of the public works department (PWD), the commissioner of the Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC), the member of the mayor's council responsible for roads and the chairman of the CMDA to appear before it on Monday.

They will be asked to explain why they should not be held in contempt for not obeying the court's directive.

A week ago, responding to a public interest litigation filed by two aggrieved residents of Calcutta, the court had called for a detailed report on the city roads from the PWD, CMC and the CMDA.

On Tuesday, when the matter came up for hearing, no respondent except the PWD was present. Junior standing counsel Subrata Mukhopadhyay, appearing for the PWD, submitted a two-page report stating the names of the roads maintained by the department and claiming they were in good condition.

But the contents of the report did not satisfy the court.

Justice Kabir, senior judge of the bench, told Mukhopadhyay: 'Your client is taking the matter lightly. It is a serious issue. Ask the principal secretary of the department to come to court and clarify why he did not bother to carry out the order of the court properly.'

CMC lawyer Aloke Ghosh later said: 'I know the bench has taken serious note of the fact that I was not present during the hearing' I was busy with another serious matter.'

The report of the civic authority regarding road conditions was ready, he claimed. 'Late on Tuesday afternoon, I went to convince the court, but the judges refused to hear me,' added Ghosh.

PWD counsel Mukhopadhyay also admitted that his client had not paid enough attention to the court order. 'I have told them that the court has taken the issue very seriously. The bench wants a comprehensive report about the condition of the roads,' he added.

Idris Ali and Sreemoyee Mitra, lawyers on behalf of the petitioners, had moved court a week ago. The lawyers alleged that accidents caused by the poor condition of roads were claiming lives every day.

'The PWD and the CMC, the authorities meant to look into the matter, do not bother to hear the pleas of the citizens,' alleged the lawyers.

The petition mentioned NSC Bose Road, Prince Anwar Shah Road, Deshapran Sashmal Road, Raja SC Mullick Road, Hazra Road, Bowbazar Street, MG Road, Rabindra Sarani and Diamond Harbour Road as hazardous.

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