'No autowalla can refuse passesgers'

Over 30,146 drivers caught for violations last year

Delhi Traffic Police will continue taking strict action against autorickshaw drivers who refuse to carry passengers or overcharge and misbehave despite speculations that the state government led by Arvind Kejriwal wants to take away the power and give it back to the transport department.

A senior traffic police officer said they have not received any order and that such an action by the state government is unlikely.

Sources said Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has held several meetings with the senior officers of the transport department but the final decision would be taken by Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung. The LG has the power to refer the issue to the Central government.

However, Additional Commissioner of Police (Traffic) Anil Shukla, highlighted that such a scenario is yet to be discussed with the department. “Reports of revoking powers of the traffic police to prosecute autorickshaw drivers are based on speculations and we have not received any such order. Currently, we will continue to take action over the complaints,” Shukla told Deccan Herald.

The transport department states that autorickshaw drivers’ refusal, overcharging and misbehaviour are offences considered to be violation of the permit which provides for fine and suspension of the permit by the assistant commissioner of police (traffic). Complaints can be made by call to the police control room and traffic helpline numbers.

Last year, traffic police carried out several drives to take action against all complaints of refusal, overcharging and misbehaviour through on-spot challans and by issuing notices under section 133 of the Motor Vehicle Act. During the year, a total of 30,146 autorickshaw drivers were prosecuted for permit violations and 11,972 notices were issued to autorickshaw owners on public complaints. Over 1.26 lakh autorickshaw drivers were also prosecuted for flouting traffic laws and for plying without effective documents.

Traffic police have further analysed complaints and identified 17 locations where there were maximum complaints of refusal by autorickshaw drivers. “Adequate traffic staff has been deployed during vulnerable complaint hours at the identified locations to take strict action against autorickshaw drivers,” said Taj Hassan, Special Commissioner of Police (Traffic).

Kejriwal had earlier said autorickshaw drivers had joined hands with the Aam Aadmi Party in the fight against corruption, and that the party is committed to resolving issues of the autorickshaw drivers. Transport Minister Saurabh Bhardwaj has also said several incidents of harassment of autorickshaw drivers by traffic police has been reported to the government.

To rein in undisciplined public transport vehicles and ensure passenger safety, traffic police had also launched special drives against public transport vehicles for flouting traffic laws and for plying without effective documents. During the year, a total of 2,23,432 public transport vehicles were prosecuted which included 13,487 chartered buses, 23,600 Gramin Sewa vehicles, 5,603 Delhi Transport Corporation buses and 37,757 taxis.

Offences under the Motor Vehicle Act include overtaking, speeding, picking up passengers from outside bus stands and driving outside the bus lanes. In such cases, traffic police can issue challans, impound the vehicle and suspend the permit for a period.

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