By revoking Delhi traffic police’s power to impound autorickshaws and other light vehicles — as chief minister Arvind Kejriwal said in the mahasabha on Friday in New Delhi — the AAP-led Delhi government will be violating a Supreme Court order.
In a judgment in 1997, the Supreme Court had empowered the traffic police to prosecute and impound all vehicles for violating road norms. “We direct that the order will be carried out notwithstanding any other order or directions by any authority, court or tribunal,” the judgment reads.
The proposal also flies in the face of the recommendations made by the Justice Usha Mehra Commission in the aftermath of the December 16 gang rape. “The commission is at loss to see any sensible reason why the autorickshaw driver who refused to carry the passenger to his destination has not been challaned… which is a non-compoundable offence entailing suspension and even cancellation of the permit either by Delhi traffic police or transport department.”
Meanwhile, the legal fraternity too has criticised the government’s move.”If the government issues such a notification, the apex court may take a suo motu cognizance or someone may move court,” said Sunil Mittal, a senior high court advocate.
Rajiv Bajaj, another advocate of Delhi high court, said: “This move is strange and the notification, if issued, will be challenged and will become null and void.”
The Delhi Police is also unhappy with the move. “The public mainly suffer due to refusal, overcharging and misbehaviour by the drivers of autorickshaws and other light commercial vehicles such as Gramin Sewas and taxis. They also violate all kinds of road norms. Prosecution of offending vehicles is a deterrent to such acts,” said Anil Shukla, additional commissioner of police.
In 2013, the traffic police had prosecuted about 2.6 lakh autorickshaws and had impounded over 30,000 light commercial vehicles.