The Delhi High Court Monday dismissed a bunch of petitions challenging the Delhi government’s decision making it compulsory for auto-rickshaws in the city to install global positioning system (GPS) devices.
The court maintained that government is authorised for such powers under the Motor Vehicles Act, and legal provisions accorded the power to the State Transport Authority (STA) to pass an executive order imposing conditions.
A division bench of Justice A.K. Sikri and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw said: “We do not find anything wrong in the decision of respondent, STA in this scenario to provide for fitting each auto-rickshaw with the GPS/GPRS and printing devices so as to regulate their plying thereof.”
The court’s order came on a bunch of petitions filed by the auto-rickshaw drivers challenging the government’s notification demanding Rs.15,000 from auto drivers for installing GPS systems.
The petitioners had argued they can’t be forced to pay the amount for GPS devices as they are daily wage earners and it would harm their livelihood.
On this point, the court said: “Now, in any case the respondent STA has reduced the said amount to Rs.7,500. There is thus no burden on the petitioners from the expenditure required to be incurred on the installation of the equipment or operation thereof.”
The bench also observed: “We do not see anything wrong in requiring the auto-rickshaw to be GPS/GPRS and printer fitted. The same is in consonance with what is happening in the rest of the world. Any inhabitant of Delhi would vouch for the infamy of the auto-rickshaw drivers.”
“They are not only known to overcharge but also to take longer rather than direct routes for their own benefit and to the detriment of their patrons/consumers. Installation of GPS/GPRS would create a proof/evidence of the route taken by the auto-rickshaw driver.”
The auto-rickshaw drivers had earlier contend the government’s decision is a violation of their fundamental right of livelihood since it focussed on three-wheelers but left out buses, trucks, etc.
The government had March 17 last year issued a notification which authorized it to collect extra money for setting up a Control Centre Room for installing GPS/GPRS on the vehicle for better service, security and customer convenience.
In their plea, the petitioners had contended that the the government was over-charging for the GPS or GPRS device as the amount demanded (Rs.15,000) was much more than the price of device, which was available for less than Rs. 5,000 in the market.
They also pleaded that “the conditions are violative of Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution of India, being discriminatory, arbitrary and without having any nexus and the imposition of the conditions are beyond the competence and powers of the STA as outlined in the Act”.