Sorry, can’t restrict women, says Kerala State Road Transport Corporation

The Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) on Wednesday submitted before the Kerala High Court it cannot restrict woman passengers from travelling in Sabarimala special services.

A counter affidavit filed by KSRTC to the high court pointed out that women are allowed to travel without any age restriction on bus services operated by the government undertakings of other states such as Tamil Nadu, and Andhra Pradesh as well as in vans, cars, and jeeps carrying pilgrims to Pampa and Nilakkal. “No restriction is imposed for the ladies of any age for such travel. Therefore denial of the entry to the buses for the ladies is clear violation of fundamental rights guaranteed under Article 14 (equality before law), 15 (prohibition of gender-based discrimination), and 21 (right to life and liberty) of the Constitution,” the affidavit filed by KSRTC stated.The petitioner had also sought a directive not to permit standing passengers in regular super class services.

It is up to the Travancore Devaswom Board to take steps in their premises in accordance with law and custom, the affidavit further said. Women of menstruating age are barred from entering Sabarimala temple by the devaswom board.

It was also alleged by the petitioner that KSRTC is allowing standing passengers in the special services to Sabarimala. Through the affidavit, KSRTC claimed that it is only doing so as permitted by law. As per Rule 267 of Kerala Motor Vehicle Rules, standing passengers can be allowed up to 25 per cent of the seating capacity, KSRTC has contended.

The KSRTC submitted it is a state transport undertaking established under section 3 of the Road Transport Corporation Act. It is operating many services to and from Pampa and Nilakkal from different parts of Kerala. “ No restriction is imposed on women of any age for travelling in special services. Denial of the entry to the buses for women is a clear violation of fundamental rights guaranteed under Article 14, 15 and 21 of the Constitution,” it stated.