Encroachment on Roads Impermissible in Law

Courts issue directions on road safety

The Supreme Court of India (SC) and the High Court of Kerala (HCK), in different occasions, have issued some cardinal directions to the state government and Motor Vehicle Department in Kerala to ensure safety measures on roads, on the basis of the statutes in force.

Some pertinent judgements

In S. Rajaseekaran v Union of India [(2018) 13 SCC 516] the SC held that all States and Union Territories are expected to implement the National Road Safety Policy with all due earnestness and seriousness.

In Suo motu v State of Kerala [2022 (7) KHC 185 (DB)], the HCK has issued similar directions to the authorities in the context of Sabarimala season. The judgement reminds the state government to implement the National Road Safety Policy with due earnestness and seriousness as the Supreme court had said in the above said S. Rajaseekaran judgement.

In Sodan Singh v Delhi Municipal Committee [(1989) 4 SCC 155], a Constitution Bench of the SC held that the primary object of building roads is undoubtedly to facilitate people to travel from one point to another.

State is the trustee of roads on behalf of public

The state government holds the public roads as a trustee on behalf of the public. Inaction on the part of the state government and the local self-government institutions in preventing or encroaching upon food paths, or right of way of public roads, will amount to clear breach of trust.

Restriction of processions on the road

The Section 4 of Kerala Public Ways (Restriction of Assemblies and Processions) Act, 2011 deals with prohibition of obstruction on public ways. As per sub-section (1) of Section 4, no person shall cause any obstruction by conducting any business or meeting or assembly or procession or demonstration on any public way or part thereof. As per sub-section (2) of Section 4, no meeting or assembly shall be conducted so as to obstruct any portion of the carriage way or footpath. As per subsection (3) of Section 4, no demonstration or procession shall be conducted in such a manner that the entire carriage way or free flow of traffic is fully obstructed.

Vehicles should not be parked on footpath

The police offices and officers of the motor vehicle department have to ensure that vehicles should not be parked on footpath, cycle path, and pedestrian crossing, as per regulation no 22 of the Motor Vehicle (Driving ) Regulation 2017.

Political parties or others not to misuse the road space

No political party organisation or trader has any right to encroach upon the road by erecting any structures, even for temporary purpose, or for stocking articles for trade, forcing the pedestrians to walk in unsafe circumstances.

The service roads provided on the side of the National Highways and the Bypasses cannot be converted as a parking space for commercial or other establishments, religious institutions, or even for putting up temporary structures in connection with festivals in temples churches and mosques. As per Section 22 of the Motor Vehicles Regulation 2017, a vehicle shall not be parked on footpath cycle, path or pedestrian crossing.

The unauthorised hoardings and advertisements put up on roads result in blocking the line of sight of drivers and that causes distraction to them and results in accidents.

The government shall not grant any promise for installation of any statue or construction of any structure in public roads, pavements, sideways and other public utility places.

Any failure of authority is punishable

As per Section 198A of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 (MV Act), any designated authority, contractor, consultant or concessionaire or anyone else responsible for the design or construction or maintenance of the safety standards of the road shall have to follow such design, construction and maintenance standards prescribed by the government.

When there is failure and that leads to death or disability, such failure is punishable with a fine which may be extended to Rupees 1,00,000/ to be paid to the Motor Vehicle Accident Fund,  prescribed under Section 164B of the M V Act.


  1. Suo motu v State of Kerala: 2022 (7) KHC 185 (DB)
  2. Motor Vehicle Act, 1988
  3. Motor Vehicles (Driving) Regulations, 2017