High Court questions Centre’s policy exempting autos from having panic buttons

The Delhi High Court today questioned the Centre’s 2016 policy exempting autorickshaws and e-rickshaws across India from having panic buttons or General Packet Radio Service (GPRS), saying how can it have such a scheme “in an atmosphere where people are getting raped”.

The high court also said that “for once”, the Centre must agree with the Delhi government which has made it mandatory for autorickshaws to have Global Positioning System (GPS) or GPRS system under its public transport policy of 2010.

The observation by Justice Rajiv Shakdher came while hearing a plea by a trade union of autorickshaws plying in the national capital seeking exemption from having GPS or GPRS systems, used for tracking vehicle location, in the three-wheelers.

“Why are three-wheelers and e-rickshaws exempted in the present environment? In an atmosphere where people are getting raped, you are saying you don’t want panic buttons or GPS or GPRS systems.

“For once, you (Centre) must agree with them (Delhi government) that autorickshaws and e-rickshaws need GPS or GPRS system,” the court observed.

The court also issued notice to the Centre, AAP government and Delhi Integrated Multi-Modal Transit System (DIMTS) Limited and sought their stand on the plea by the next date of hearing.

The trade union, represented by advocate Barun Kumar Sinha, told the court that while a 2010 notification of the Delhi government makes it mandatory for them to have GPS or GPRS, the central government notification of 2016 exempts them from the requirement.

Taking note of the submission, the court asked central government standing counsel Anurag Ahluwalia to take instructions on whether the Centre’s notification would come in the way of the one by the Delhi government.

While asking for the clarification from the Centre, the court said if its policy will occupy the field then the same will have to be examined.

Ahluwalia told the court that the Delhi government will have to say whether it will follow the central government notification, which will come into effect from April 1 this year.

The court, thereafter, asked the Delhi government whether its notification continues to remain in operation subsequent to the Centre’s scheme.

Apart from seeking exemption from installing GPS or GPRS system in their vehicles, the autorickshaw trade union has as an alternative sought regulating of the mechanism.

It has claimed that despite charging the autorickshaws for setting up a GPS control centre, the Delhi government has not yet set up any such system.

Govt agrees to fast-track probe, increase policing

Government agreed to fast track investigations into sexual offences like rape and increase policing that includes deployment of the force in plain clothes to instil sense of security in the capital for heeding to suggestions from public.

Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and Union Minister of State for Home R P N Singh in a meeting with, the protesters who were outraged over the recent gang rape incident in South Delhi put forth 14 demands which were readily accepted by the Government.

The government also agreed to expand definition of sexual assault from eve-teasing to rape and acid attacks and strictest provision of the law for sexual assault.

According to them the government agreed to fast track investigations into sexual offences like rape and increase policing that includes deployment of the force in plain clothes.

It was also agreed that patrolling by PCR vans needs to be strengthened and there would be punitive action against officials or personnel for delays in reaching the spot.

According to the sources the Government also agreed that citizen security officers would be deployed and there would be more lighting in public spaces, while CCTVs would be used adequately in specific areas relating to women’s safety.

The government also promised to protesters that GPS would be installed in public vehicles, while dedicated number for contacting police 100 should be recorded, on the lines of 911 in the US.

Dedicated round the clock women helpline, fast track courts, “day-to-day trial, rarest of rare punishment and 100 per cent justice in this case in shortest possible time” are the other suggestions which were agreed to.