Commercial goods vehicles in Delhi can reset speed governors at 80 kmph, up from 40kmph
Heavy, medium transport vehicles and light goods vehicles fitted with a speed governor (a speed limiting device) registered after October 1, 2015, and plying in the national capital, can now have a maximum pre-set speed of 80 kilometres per hour.
The Delhi High Court on Thursday set aside a provision in the notification issued by the Delhi government in July 2018, capping the maximum attainable speed of such commercial vehicles at 40 kmph.
This means that transport vehicles in Delhi, which were designed to stop if they crossed 40kmph on the speedometer, will now have their speed governor settings revised to 80 kmph.
A bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan said the Delhi government does not have such powers to cap vehicular speed limit under its Rules and neither the MC Mehta judgment, passed in 1997 by the Supreme Court, confer such powers.
The notification issued by the Delhi government on July 17, 2018, fixed the speed limits of various types of commercial vehicles. The notification added a provision that had said light, medium and heavy good vehicles registered on or after October 1 2015 shall have a maximum pre-set speed of 40 kilometres per hour.
The pre-set speed limit of a vehicle is different from the city speed limit set by the Delhi government’s transport department and Delhi Traffic Police, which is 60kmph for private vehicles and 40kmph for commercial vehicles. In highways crossing the national capital, this limit is 70kmph.
The court’s judgment came while hearing a plea by a motor vehicle dealer, particularly those manufactured by Maruti Suzuki India Limited. These include the models Maruti Suzuki Omni Cargo, EECO Cargo, and Super Carry, which are classified as light goods vehicles.
According to the petitioner, he was unable to register his vehicles in Delhi due to restrictions laid down in the notification, which capped the speed to 40 km per hour. He said all his vehicles were verified and specified by an authorised testing agency to have a rated speed of not more than 80 kilometres per hour (“kmph”).
Appearing for the petitioner, its counsel had contended that the Motor Vehicle Act empowers the state government to issue a notification in respect of vehicles registered prior to October 1, 2015, whereas the proviso in the notification applies to vehicles registered on or after October 1, 2015.
Defending the notification’s proviso, advocate Anupam Shrivastava and advocate Sanjoy Ghose, additional standing counsels of the Delhi government, said they had issued the notification in accordance to the MC Mehta judgment. The counsels during the hearing had said central government rules do not empower them to pass the notification with respect to such vehicles registered after October 1, 2015.
The court, while quashing the proviso, held that the MC Mehta judgment does not confer power upon the state government to issue the impugned notification. It said the judgment proceeds on the basis that the Act and Rules contain sufficient provisions to enable the authorities to act in the interest of curbing the menace of traffic in Delhi.
“In view of the inaction of the executive, the Supreme Court issued the directions contained in the Annexure to the judgment. However it was made expressly clear in paragraph 2 of the judgment (MC Mehat) that the directions issued by the Supreme Court were intended to have effect until the executive acted to fill the lacuna,” the HC said in its judgment of 25 pages.
Reacting to the judgment, Delhi Traffic police said it will wait for the court order and abide by whatever directions have been issued.
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