In a significant judgment upholding the right to livelihood of rickshaw-pullers, the Delhi High Court on Monday asked civic agencies and police not to harass them by insisting on Delhi residence proof.
The court said that cycle rickshaws were indispensable in the present public transport scenario of the Capital. The fact that a majority of rickshaw- pullers were migrants was taken note of by the judges.Manushi Sangathan, the NGO which raised the issue, told the court that hapless rickshaw- pullers faced the biggest harassment at the hands of the law enforcement agencies on this account.
“Rickshaws are indispensable for providing link transport to innumerable users of public transport. Given the unprecedented growth of residential colonies, a large section of the middle-class population which commutes by buses, trains and the Metro, is dependent on cycle rickshaws for further journey to their homes and places of work,” said justice S Muralidhar and justice S Ravindra Bhat, while dismissing the MCD plea that rickshaw-pullers should be compulsorily made to furnish Delhi residence proof.
The plea that they could be a security threat was also rejected by the court which said “rickshaw-pullers by themselves cannot constitute a security risk”.
“Most rickshaw-pullers are migrants from other states and are unlikely to have any proof of residence in Delhi. They are mostly homeless, having to either sleep on the rickshaw itself or use the city's pavements for a night's rest. The more fortunate ones may be able to find some space in a jhuggi cluster on a temporary basis,” said the court.
“In present circumstances, the insistence on proof of residence from rickshaw pliers as a condition for the grant of registration or licence would undoubtedly cause them further harassment and create a barrier for them to obtain either,” said the court.
Noting that rickshaw-pullers “literally” live in the open, the judges said, “It is not difficult for the police, if it makes a concerted effort, to trace any rickshaw-puller.