You will be soon able to lodge a complaint from your mobile phone and even seek immediate police assistance, if the driver of the cab or autorickshaw in which you are travelling behaves rudely or badly with you.
The Bombay high court on Wednesday directed the state government to create within two months a grievance redressal mechanism enabling passengers travelling in autorickshaws or taxies to lodge a complaint from their mobile phones via SMS, Whatsapp messages or even emails.
A division bench of justice Abhay Oka and justice Anuja Prabhudessai also directed the government to connect the grievance redressal mechanism with police machinery to make immediate police intervention possible.
The judges felt the need for a separate and effective grievance redressal mechanism, although the state government has already proposed a 24x7 helpline, primarily after noticing that no immediate police assistance would be provided through it. The bench said Maharashtra Motor Vehicle Rules, 1989, require cab and auto drivers to behave in a civil and orderly manner with passengers and also to stick to the shortest and fittest route to reach the destination.
“If the driver behaves rudely with the passenger or does not stick to the route, no purpose will be served by the passenger lodging a complaint after the journey is over,” said the bench, while stressing the need for immediate police assistance in emergencies. The bench directed the grievance redressal mechanism be so connected with the police machinery that authorities can immediately track the vehicle and intervene to assist the passenger.
The bench further observed that appropriate action of cancellation of permits of auto owners and badges of drivers was also required to be taken wherever they are found to have committed breach of the conditions of permit or badge or violated provisions of the Maharashtra Motor Vehicle Rules, which impose a number of duties on cab and auto drivers. The duties imposed by the rules include behaving in a civil and orderly manner with passengers, not to turn down passengers, maintain vehicles in fit and proper condition, keep the vehicle clean, wear khaki uniform with a nameplate and the badge, shall in case of accident take the injured passenger to hospital, etc.
The court was hearing a bunch of petitions filed by associations of autorickshaw owners and drivers from Bhiwandi and Mira-Bhayander areas challenging validity of a condition imposed by state government on applicants for new auto-rickshaw permits to have working knowledge of Marathi and knowledge of topography of the area for which permit is sought.