In an affidavit filed before the Delhi High Court on Wednesday, the Delhi government has said that e- rickshaws were a “public service vehicle” which would be regulated under the Central Motor Vehicles Act, but “their operation as per the law as it stands today, is wholly unauthorised and illegal.”
Filed by the Chief Secretary, the affidavit submitted before the court of Justice Badar Durrez Ahmed and Justice Siddharth Mridul also states that the Transport department has stopped taking action against e-rickshaws, after Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari announced that the Central Motor Vehicles Rules will be changed to accommodate e-rickshaws. “The Ministry of Road Transport is apprised of the matter and is looking into the amendment of the Act,” says the affidavit.
The bench asked the government to explain how e-rickshaws were being allowed to ply on city roads if they are not complying with rules and regulations, as admitted by the authorities. “He (Chief Secretary) is saying e-rickshaws are to be treated as a public service vehicles. So how are they plying if they are not complying with the rules and regulations?” the bench said, adding, “Just ban them.”
The court also observed that people are getting injured by e-rickshaws and drivers get away scot-free because the vehicles are unregistered. Advocate Sugrive Dubey, appearing for petitioner Shanawaz Khan, alleged that many people have died in accidents involving e-rickshaws in the last few months.
According to the affidavit, there was confusion as there seemed to be “two sets of regulations” for e- rickshaws depending on the engine power and speed of the vehicles. The situation was “not administratively feasible”, says the affidavit.
The government has also stated that no manufacturer had been granted approval by any designated agency. It further said that “unscrupulous manufacturers and importers disguised their products as legal ones under the garb of the exemption clause”, given under the CMV Act.
The affidavit was filed pursuant to the High Court’s order of May 21 this year, directing the Chief Secretary to disclose under what circumstances e-rickshaws were allowed to ply on Delhi roads. The court had issued the direction after going through the government’s reply that though e-rickshaws are operating illegally, the government is “not competent” to stop them as it will entail amendment to the MV Act.