Delhi High Court on 23 July 2014 rapped Delhi government over its failure to regulate e-rickshaws and asked it to clarify its stand on how to regulate them by 31 July 2014.The Court said the e-rickshaws could not be allowed to ply uncontrolled without licence, registration or insurance and they should be banned.
The Division Bench of the Delhi HC comprising of Justice Badar Durrez Ahmed and Justice Siddharth Mridul rapped the Delhi government while hearing the affidavit filed by Delhi Chief Secretary S K Srivastava.
In its affidavit seeking regulation of the e-rickshaws, Chief Secretary said that the operation of the e-rickshaws was wholly unauthorised and illegal. This is because under the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, e-rickshaws are motor vehicles and their plying on the Delhi's road posed a danger to the public safety. Further, a policy or regulation governing e-rickshaws could not be framed because they already are covered under the Act.
The affidavit further stated that Transport Department of the State had stopped taking action against e-rickshaws after the Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari on 18 June 2014 announced a Deendayal e-rickshaw scheme and promised to change the laws pertaining to these vehicles in order to take them out of the ambit of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988.
The affidavit was filed by the Chief Secretary following the HC order of 21 May 2014 asking for disclosure of circumstances in which e-rickshaws were allowed to ply in Delhi. The Delhi HC order of 21 May 2014 came following a petition filed by social activist Shahnawaz Khan.
In its petition Khan sought regulation of e-rickshaws on the ground that with four 12 volt batteries and power output of 650 to 850 watts, these rickshaws can only carry four persons. But they carry around eight persons endangering the lives of peoples.
The issue of e-rickshaws has been hogging the limelight from last few months. The main issue is whether these vehicles are motor vehicles or not and whether they should be regulated or not under the definition of motor vehicles in Motor Vehicles Act, 1988.
On 24 April 2014, e-rickshaws were rendered illegal following a notification from Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways. However, while addressing a huge rally of e-rickshaws driver on 18 June 2014, Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari announced to regularize the e-rickshaws and launched the Deendayal e-rickshaw scheme.
He announced that the e-rickshaws with motor power up to 650 watts would be considered non-motorised vehicles under the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 and hence they would not be barred from operating.
Further, he stated that the Transport Department and traffic police would not challan e-rickshaws. These were to be regularised by the Municipal Corporation of Delhi by registering them with a fee of 100 rupees. This would enable the e-rickshaw drivers to earn their livelihood.
Deendayal e-rickshaw Scheme
Deendayal e-rickshaw Scheme was launched on 18 June 2014 by the Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari in New Delhi. The scheme aims to legalise the operation of e-rickshaws in Delhi with the assurance that e-rickshaw drivers would no longer be fined by the Delhi Police.
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Who: Delhi HC
When: 23 July 2014
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