New Delhi: Gramin Sewa autos carry more than double the passengers than they are supposed to and are not only unstable but also “pose a threat” to others on the capital's roads, the Delhi High Court has said and rapped the city government for allowing this to happen.
A bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw came down heavily on the city government's transport department and the Traffic Police for allowing the conversion of Gramin Sewa autos meant for carriage of six passengers into a vehicle for carriage of 14-15 passengers.
It also expressed concern over plying of such autos on routes other than those permitted, saying it “affects the free flow movement of traffic on the roads”. “The photograph filed along with the petition make us concerned about the conversion of Gramin Sewa vehicle meant for carriage of six passengers into a vehicle for carriage of 14-15 passengers. The second aspect which concerns us is the plying of such vehicles on routes other than permitted.
“We have ourselves also found the said vehicles operating within the city limits where they are not supposed to ply. The carriage in the said vehicles of passengers are many more than what they are meant for, not only affects the stability of the vehicle and thereby the safety of the passengers but also undoubtedly poses a threat to others on the road,” it said. The court made the observations while disposing of with directions a PIL alleging violation of plying rules by Gramin Sewa autos in the capital.
The PIL, filed by advocates Vijay Dahiya and Ankur Kumar Mishra, had contended that Delhi Transport Department and Traffic Police have turned a blind eye to vehicles plying under the Gramin Sewa Scheme which were flouting traffic regulations and posing a danger to the safety of commuters.
Terming these autos as “death machines,” it had claimed these vehicles, plying under Gramin Sewa scheme, carry 15-16 people while the actual capacity, including the driver, was just six.
Acting on the PIL, the bench issued a slew of directions to the city's transport department and traffic cops, saying it was “undoubtedly the duty of the respondents to ensure that Gramin Sewa vehicles operate in accordance with all licence/permit condition”.
Directing the authorities concerned to “ensure” action the court asked, “Transport department to not renew/re-validate the fitness certificate of any of the said vehicles, whenever they are due for renewal/issuance thereof, if the same are found to have been modified to carry more than the number of passengers for which they are licensed/permitted”.
“Transport Department to devise other ways and means including by providing for an appropriate design change to restrict carriage of more than the permitted passengers in the said vehicles and to direct all gramin sewa autos/ vehicles to comply with the said measures and means.
“Traffic Police to systematically inspect the vehicles at their start and pick up points and upon finding the same to be non compliant with the licence/permit conditions, to seize the vehicles and not release them till they are made compliant,” the court said in its direction.
In its seven-page order the court also asked the traffic police to make its officials on field duty aware of the routes on which the gramin sewa autos are permitted to ply and to direct them to seize the vehicles and take appropriate action if they are plying on route on which they are not permitted.
The station house officer of the police stations having jurisdiction over the routes on which the said vehicles are permitted to ply, have been directed by the court to ensure that these autos are compliant with the permit conditions. It said no Gramin Sewa vehicle be allowed to ply till it complies with the permit conditions.