The Bombay high court has held that the government’s decision to introduce electronic meters in auto-rickshaws is “in larger public interest”.
“Therefore, the grievance of some individuals that it may cause hardship to them cannot be a ground for restraining state government from implementing it,” the division bench of justice PB Majmudar and justice RD Dhanuka said while dismissing the petition filed by Mumbai Autorickshawmen’s Union.
The rickshaw union had approached the high court challenging the validity of a notification issued by the home department on February 17 that sought to phase out mechanical meters in favour of electronic ones.
According to the union’s counsel, AY Sakhare, the decision to make electronic meters compulsory for auto-rickshaws was based on a report submitted by an 11-member committee set up by state government in April 2004. Sakhare claimed that the submission was not a report prepared by the committee, and that it was prepared by the minister concerned and three officers from the transport department.
He further submitted that the committee had not taken into consideration the situation prevailing and problems faced by auto-rickshaw owners outside Mumbai, as the committee did not go outside the city, though the state comprises six revenue divisions. The division bench of justice PB Majmudar and justice RD Dhanuka, however, noted that the rules did not mandate the government to form such a committee in the first place.
During the course of arguments, advocate general Darius Khambata informed the court that although electronic meters could not be termed entirely tamper-proof, there are eight safety measures in the new meters, which make them very difficult to tamper with. The deadline is July 1 for new auto-rickshaws within areas of all other municipal corporations and A-grade municipal councils. In these areas, mechanical meters will have to be replaced with electronics one at the time of renewal of the vehicle’s fitness certificate.