Brushing aside stiff opposition from auto-rickshaw drivers, the Delhi Traffic Police has told the Delhi High Court that it is determined to make it mandatory for all the drivers to carry badges and bio-metric cards.
There are an estimated 55,000 auto-rickshaws in the capital.
The police said the aim is to prevent auto-rickshaw drivers from committing crime against passengers, a trend increasingly witnessed in the recent past.
“It is well known that some auto and taxi drivers have, in the past, indulged in criminal activities such as robberies, snatching and kidnapping,” stated an affidavit filed by DCP (Traffic) Prabhakar through lawyer Jyoti Singh.
“It is therefore necessary that undesirable and unverified drivers, whose identity and residential address itself perhaps may not be correct, are not allowed to drive a public service vehicle which gives them an opportunity to commit crimes against innocent passengers, including foreign tourists,” the affidavit added.
The department said it would be easier to maintain a database of drivers in this manner.
The traffic police are of the view that possession of a badge and biometric connotes an element of certification. These will be issued only after verification of the character and antecedents of such drivers.
“The verification is under process,” said the affidavit filed in the court of Acting Chief Justice Madan B. Lokur and Justice Mukta Gupta, hearing a PIL filed by NGO Nyay Bhoomi representing the auto rickshaw drivers.
On February 3, in an interim order, the court had restrained the Delhi transport department and traffic police from fining auto-rickshaw drivers merely on account of non-possession of badges.
‘Non-Delhi licences valid’
The Delhi traffic police denied the NGO's allegations that auto rickshaw drivers, who possess licences issued by states outside Delhi, were not being allowed to operate here and were recently penalised.