HC pulls up Delhi govt. over regulation of auto, e-rickshaws

A view of the Delhi High Court

A view of the Delhi High Court | Photo Credit: File Photo

The Delhi High Court on Thursday came down heavily on the Delhi government for failing to act against e-rickshaws and autos plying on roads without fitness and registration certificates, noting the authorities are not serious in enforcing the law.

“We are amazed as to how the respondents (Delhi government’s Transport department) are permitting plying of e-rickshaws and autos, whose fitness certificate and registration respectively have expired, in broad daylight,” a Bench of Acting Chief Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Navin Chawla said.

The High Court’s remarks came while hearing a petition by auto-rickshaw driver Ajit Kumar, represented by advocate Vishal Khanna, seeking to remove the old auto-rickshaws from roads either by scrapping them or by enforcing the replacement scheme applicable to auto-rickshaws.

The Delhi government, in response to the petition, said as per ‘Vahan 4.0’, within the cap of one lakh fixed by the Supreme Court, 92,849 auto-rickshaws are registered with the government, of which the permits of 9,451 have expired and not yet been renewed.

The Vahan 4.0 is a centralized vehicle registration portal under the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways.

Passengers boarding an e-rickshaw at the Seemapuri bus depot in New Delhi

Passengers boarding an e-rickshaw at the Seemapuri bus depot in New Delhi | Photo Credit: File Photo

Permit renewal

“There could be a number of reasons behind not getting the permit renewed like, the auto met with an accident and declared total loss, dispute with the financier and court case pending, death of the registered owner of the TSR (three-wheeler scooter rickshaw) but due to no knowledge of getting the TSR transferred, and stolen cases etc.,” the Delhi government said in an affidavit.

It further stated that as per the Vahan 4.0 database, 1,10,430 e-rickshaws have been registered in the Capital, out of which fitness certificates of 80,583 e-rickshaws have expired until December 22, 2021. The Enforcement Branch has prosecuted 2,199 such vehicles from January 1, 2019 to December 22, 2021, it said, adding that the execution process is likely to gain momentum once the pandemic is over.

The High Court directed the authorities to “take remedial steps forthwith” and submit a status report within two weeks. It posted the case for further hearing on May 11.

Mr. Kumar, said in his petition, being an auto driver, he was versed with the problems that auto-rickshaw owners and drivers have to face. He claimed that many old auto-rickshaws, more than 15-year-old, were plying on Delhi roads and added that the transport authorities were not taking action against such vehicles.

Addition of e-autos to the fleet

The Delhi Transport Department started allotting 4,261 e-autos in February under its EV Policy 2020, for which it had invited online applications from willing drivers in October and November, 2022.

The petitioner added that the Supreme Court, in an order issued on November 11, 2011, had fixed the cap of CNG auto-rickshaws to one lakh in the Capital and the addition of 4,261 e-autos was in violation of the apex court’s order.

Responding to this argument, the Delhi government said the registration of 4,261 new e-autos will be treated within the one lakh cap of auto-rickshaws.

The government added that currently, CNG auto-rickshaws are being registered for 15 years, after which they are scrapped. Once the old auto-rickshaw is deposited at an authorised scrapping centre, a new auto-rickshaw is registered.

Faulty e-rickshaws

Mr. Kumar claimed that e-rickshaws plying on roads without valid or renewed fitness certificates could lead to traffic congestion as they are known to break down easily. But the Delhi government said, “There is no such data available with the traffic police to establish that the large number of traffic jams are caused because of the faulty e-rickshaws”.

“Moreover, the e-rickshaw is such a mechanical object, which can be removed from the road by the driver himself, as it is light-weighted and easy to shift unlike bus, truck, car or any other heavy LMV (light motor vehicles),” the Delhi government said.

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Printable version | Apr 7, 2022 9:59:38 pm |