New Delhi: The Delhi High Court Thursday ordered an immediate ban on plying of e-rickshaws in the capital, saying their unregulated operation is "hazardous to other traffic on the road as well as to citizens".
The court order came while taking judicial notice of an incident reported Wednesday, in which a two-and-half-year-old child was killed when he slipped out of his mother's grasp and fell into vessel of boiling sugar syrup after she was hit by an e-rickshaw.
A division bench of Justice B.D. Ahmed and Justice Siddharth Mridul asked the Delhi government to ban the battery-operated motor vehicles till its further order.
"You (Delhi government) stop them in the meantime. Why allow somebody to continuously take the law in their own hands? These e-rickshaws don't have insurance, registration. Even the drivers don't have driving licenses. There is no bar on the number of passengers they can carry," it said.
"As far as the present situation is concerned, the plying of e-rickshaws is illegal. Delhi government to ban plying of e-rickshaws without fail," the court said.
Reacting to the order, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) blamed the Bharatiya Janata Party-led central government for the ban on environment-friendly vehicles and accused it of "indulging in doublespeak".
"Union transport minister Nitin Gadkari must explain what happened to his assurances given to the e-rickshaw drivers at the Ramlila Ground on June 16?" the AAP said referring to Gadkari's announcement of framing policy to regularise e-rickshaws.
The court held that "unregulated plying of vehicles on roads of Delhi prima facie is hazardous to other traffic on the road as well as to citizens," even as the Delhi government told it that the road and transport ministry was working to amend the Motor Vehicle Act to regularize the e-rickshaws by bringing them under its ambit.
In their affidavit, Delhi Traffic Police also informed the court that the uncontrolled plying of e-rickshaws has led to more than 26 accidents, in which two passengers have lost their lives.
They said unregulated operation of the battery-operated vehicles tends to cause traffic problems and these are causing nuisance on the roads.
It said that till June, 137 cases were registered against e-rickshaw drivers for rash and negligent driving.
The traffic police submitted that passengers of e-rickshaws are not insured for injury or death as these vehicles do not have insurance cover.
It was also said that as the operation of e-rickshaws is not regulated under the Motor Vehicles Act (MVA), police are unable to prosecute the drivers.
The court was hearing a public interest litigation seeking a ban on e-rickshaws, contending they have no registration numbers and the vehicles were putting passengers at risk since they cannot claim insurance in case of an accident.
The PIL said e-rickshaws operated with four batteries and were designed to ferry four people, including the driver. However, the drivers, at times, carried up to eight passengers, endangering their lives, it added.