The Minister’s speech on Saturday defending the Kerala government and the Public Works Department (PWD) has triggered controversy.

Kerala Min absolves govt of responsibility of motorists death lashes out at HC instead
news Controversy Monday, December 16, 2019 - 08:06

Kerala Public Works Minister G Sudhakaran has stoked controversy after he hit back at the high court of Kerala which had questioned the government over the death of a 23-year-old due to the bad roads in Kochi. 

Irked by the High Court pulling up the government, Sudhakaran asked whether judges can be held responsible for the cases that are pending in courts.

The minister’s comment came after the Kerala High Court questioned the Kerala government over the accident, asking how many lives need to be lost for the roads in Kochi to be repaired. The 23-year-old youth was trying to manoeuvre the roads when he slipped on a pothole and fell onto the road. A passing lorry then ran over him.

In a speech made on Thursday, G Sudhakaran defended the government's Public Works Department, stating that the lapse was only by some officials and cannot be generalised. 

“Aren’t there pending cases in courts? Lakhs of cases are pending, is it the fault of the judges?" asked the minister. Answering his own question, Sudhakaran went on to state that ‘it is because the shortage in number of judges and other staff.".

The minister added that the government respects the judiciary but also suggested that the government as a whole cannot be held responsible for the accident.

“After this government came to power, after spending crores of money, we constructed the new building for the high court. We respect the judiciary and have done all the things that they have asked us to do. It is normal for the court to react in such incidents,” Sudhakaran said. 

He continued, “But what we have to understand is, everyone should do their duties here. Do the ministers not do their duty promptly? Didn’t we give money? But shouldn’t the officers implement it, shouldn’t they fill up the pothole? Aren’t they responsible for keeping a caution board near the pothole? Aren’t we paying them money? This is how it should be thought of and there is no point in generalising who is at fault.”

After the death of the 23-year-old youth on Friday, the minister had suspended four PWD officials in Ernakulam. 

As per the minister, Rs 7 crore was granted in October to carry out maintenance works on the roads in Ernakulam city alone. However, the 23-year-old’s death is not the first pothole-related accident in Kochi. In October, one man was killed similarly, he slipped over a pothole and then was run over by a passing vehicle. Then too, the High Court had questioned the government and local body authorities over the condition of the roads in Kochi.

The minister on Saturday went on to add that there are roads in other parts of Kerala that are perfect and there are only some roads that needed to be fixed. 

“Are there any potholes on Alappuzha roads? There are so many districts where the roads are perfect. There are problems only in some places and they are being rectified. I am going to call the high court judge to Alappuzha to make him see roads here,” the minister said.

After the speech turned controversial and grabbed media attention, the minister on Saturday night put out a Facebook post by claiming that a section of the media is trying to spread the wrong news. 

“A section of the media is increasingly giving wrong news about me for a while. We respect the court and I have not mentioned any inappropriate comments against the court,” he stated in the post, attaching the video of his speech.

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