The Delhi High Court Wednesday pulled up the state government and Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) for shifting the blame on each other on the issue of e-rickshaws plying on city roads without licences or number plates.
Justice Pradeep Nandrajog and Justice Jayant Nath came down heavily on the Delhi government and MCD.
They said both were “passing the buck” on each other on the issue that in case of any serious accident insurance cannot be claimed as the three-wheeled commercial vehicle does not have any registration number.
“You are passing the buck here. It is a serious issue. You are duty bound to act on the issue. If someone dies, he cannot claim insurances,” the bench said.
The petition filed by social worker Shehnwaz Khan through advocate Sugriv Dubey contended that e-rickshaws had no registration numbers and the vehicles put passengers at their own risk, since they cannot claim insurance in case of any accident.
The petition sought a ban on the battery-powered e-rickshaws. The plea also sought directions to the authorities to take measures to stop the operation of e-rickshaws.
The plea said e-rickshaws operated with four batteries and were designed to ferry four people, including the driver. It alleged that the drivers, at times, carry up to eight passengers, endangering their lives.
The petition said that with speed ranging between 20-40 km per hour, e-rickshaws were not only a safety hazard but also a reason for traffic jams in many areas.
During the hearing, counsel for Delhi government told the court that the MCD runs rickshaws, and so e-rickshaws also come under it and the government has nothing to do with it.
However, counsel for MCD said the transport department comes under the Delhi government, and so e-rickshaws will also come under it.
He said the civic agency has no power to stop e-rickshaws as they come under the jurisdiction of the Delhi government.
“E-rickshaws never came under MCD. Delhi government has the jurisdiction. We don’t have power to stop them. Delhi government has to give us power,” the MCD lawyer said.
The bench asked both counsel to file their responses on the issue within four weeks and posted the matter for Feb 19.
The petitioner’s counsel also contended that neither the vehicles were insured nor any claim can be made for injuries caused by e-rickshaws, “though even a small two-wheeler is covered under comprehensive insurance but these e-rickshaws don’t have any insurance… but if it causes accidents, then pedestrians may even die”.