Stating that the government had extended the time for recalibration of autorickshaw meters on multiple occasions, the Madras High Court on Monday observed there was no point in extending the deadline indefinitely.
Justice K.K. Sasidharan dismissed writ petitions by autorickshaw drivers’ associations seeking to quash a portion of a Tamil Nadu G.O. of August 25 directing autorickshaws to recalibrate the electronic digital meters as per the revised fare within 45 days from the date of publication of the notification.
The Judge observed that some autorickshaw owners appeared to be interested only in dragging the matter. Newspapers had reported that even after fitting the meters and recalibrating them, there were complaints that drivers did not collect the meter charge. The drivers demanded extra sums.
Counsel for the petitioners, Chennai City Auto Ottunargal Sangam and Vada Chennai Mavatta Auto Ottunargal Padukappu Sangam, represented by their general secretaries, J. Manohar and M. Anandan, submitted that the petitioners were not against the G.O. They had filed the petitions as only limited time was given to recalibrate the meters.
Justice Sasidharan said the government had given sufficient time for autorickshaw drivers to fit the electronic digital meters and recalibrate them. Initially, 45 days were given. Thereafter, on the drivers and owners’ request, the deadline was extended till November 15. The government had made it clear that no further extension would be given. In fact, the petitioners had also agreed to that deadline, he said.
The government issued the deadline considering the ground realities. In fact, the transport department appeared to have monitored the recalibration process.
They had extended all possible help to complete the process. Autorickshaw owners who failed to comply with the direction even within the extended period were not entitled to any kind of indulgence, the Judge added.
On the grievance regarding permission for submission of application for recalibration and sealing the meters after the deadline, the Judge said it was open to the owners to approach the authorities in case of genuine difficulties. It was for the authority to consider the individual grievances and pass appropriate orders on merits. The court would not be justified in issuing a general direction to entertain those applications as it would amount to extending the time limit, the Judge said.
Our Staff Reporter adds
On Monday, 1,462 meters got the seal from the RTOs in the city. A total of 49,109 autorickshaws have now got seals from the mechanics and RTOs and completed the recalibration process. “Over 20,000 vehicles are yet to complete the process,” said a transport department official.
The RTOs have also formed 38 teams in the city and suburbs for nabbing autorickshaws that have been plying without turning on the meters or using meters without seals. “Around 3,741 autorickshaws have been nabbed. Since November 15, we have nabbed over 88 autorickshaws. The drive will continue, the official said.