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Govt sanctioned loot by autos?

delhi Updated: May 10, 2012 01:50 IST
Harish V Nair

Are the 50,000 auto-rickshaw drivers in Delhi overcharging passengers with the government's consent?

The Delhi government's decision of June 23, 2010 allowing auto-rickshaw drivers to charge passengers 50 paise per kilometer towards installation of Global Positioning System came under the scanner of the Delhi High Court on Wednesday.

"Without the authority of law how can you ask them to pay? We will look into it," a bench of acting Chief Justice AK Sikri and Justice RS Endlaw told government counsel Najmi Waziri.

The court was reacting to a government affidavit which said: "While approving the fare hike for autos and taxes on June 23, 2010, the government also authorised a collection of 50 paise per kilometre from passengers towards installation of GPS/GPRS.The court was hearing a public interest litigation filed by auto-rickshaw operators, challenging the installation of GPS devices on their vehicles.

Even as the court questioned the extra charge for GPS, it said the decision to install the device was in the public interest and not arbitrary as contended by auto drivers. The court, however, questioned the delay in implementation of the project despite a decision more than three years ago.

Waziri said the modalities were being worked out and a common control room will be set up soon. "The project is to enhance the safety and security of the passengers," he said. The counsel said the government was also contemplating permitting auto-rickshaw permit holders to install GPS/GPRS themselves as long as such installation conforms to requisite specifications".