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If erickshaws can get licences as TSR, why are we here: HC

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court today questioned the litigation on the issue of plying of erickshaws in the national capital if there is a provision giving time till September for these vehicles to obtain
PTI August 20, 2014 20:33 IST
PTI
New Delhi: The Delhi High Court today questioned the litigation on the issue of plying of erickshaws in the national capital if there is a provision giving time till September for these vehicles to obtain commercial licences to run as three-wheeled scooter rickshaws (TSRs).  

“If this is so, then why are we here? If they (erickshaws) can play in the meantime, then why are we here? Implement the advertisement,” a bench of justices Badar Durrez Ahmed and Siddharth Mridul asked after perusing the advertisement according to which erickshaws have time till September to obtain licences to ply as TSRs.

As per the advertisement, erickshaws also had three months time to get a certificate verifying the type of vehicle it is.  The March 1 advertisement also said that those persons selling battery-operated rickshaws would need to get certificates from state transport department to undertake sale of such vehicles and violations of these norms would lead to action being taken under the Motor Vehicles Act.  The bench asked the Centre and Delhi government to take instruction on whether the advertisement is being implemented and what is the status.

Meanwhile, Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Pinky Anand informed the court that the state department will be opening 13 special counters to issue commercial licences to those driving erickshaws and added it is one of the temporary measures which have been put in place to regulate plying of these vehicles till proper rules are framed. 

She also said that the municipal corporations would notify the roads where erickshaws cannot ply, like high-speed roads and added that Delhi police will regulate the number of passengers and weight that the erickshaws will carry.  

She sought that till proper rules are framed under the Motor Vehicles Act “to accommodate” erickshaws, they be allowed to ply, which was also the plea of advocate R K Kapoor, appearing for Battery Rickshaw Welfare Association.  The bench, however, said, “You can't ask us to do something that you can't do under the law” and sought any judgement where courts have passed orders as sought by Centre, Delhi government and erickshaw operators.  The bench will hear the matter tomorrow.

The court asked the central and city governments to “burn the midnight oil” and issue a general order permitting plying of erickshaws.

“Let government burn midnight oil and do it,” the court said.

“We are burning midnight oil. We all sat together to come out with the interim guidelines. Right now, as a temporary measure, we can issue numbers to the erickshaws and register names of those operating it,” the ASG responded.  During the proceedings, advocate Sugrive Dubey, appearing for Shanawaz Khan on whose plea erickshaws were banned on July 31, said that despite court orders these vehicles are plying right under the nose of the authorities, including Delhi police.

He also submitted photographs showing that erickshaws are plying despite the ban ordered by the high court.  In retaliation, the Battery Rickshaw Welfare Association placed before the court a bunch of pictures showing that Shanawaz owns several cycle-rickshaws and has filed a petition in personal and not public interest.

Dubey opposed the allegations and said his client is only a social worker.

The ASG also informed the court that Delhi Police has paid over Rs one lakh to the woman whose three-old-son had died and she had suffered serious injuries in an accident involving an erickshaw, and the erickshaw association intends to pay an amount of Rs 50,000.

On July 29, the woman carrying her three-year-old son was hit from behind by an erickshaw and the child fell from her lap into a hot oil pan at a sweet shop and died. She had suffered serious burns trying to rescue her child.  The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways had recently place before the court interim guidelines to regulate plying of erickshaws and had sought that they be allowed to run till proper rules are framed under the Motor Vehicles Act.  The court, however, till date has refused to lift its stay on plying of erickshaws.

The high court on July 31 had ordered a ban on plying of erickshaws in the national capital, saying they are illegally running on Delhi roads and “prima facie a hazard to other traffic as well citizens”.

The court's directions had come on a petition filed by social worker Shanawaz Khan alleging that erickshaws, which are operated with power output of 650 to 850 Watt and are designed to ferry only four people, including the driver, were carrying more than eight people at a time, endangering their lives.