Delhi government in an order on Monday asked auto-rickshaw and taxi drivers in the city to wear a uniform while driving, warning them of heavy fines if they fail to comply, and suspension of licence for repeat offenders.
Under section 66 of Motor Vehicle Act, 1988 every taxi and auto rickshaw is required to obtain the permit to ply on road. The permit is governed with certain conditions, prominent among them is that a person will not drive a vehicle without wearing appropriate uniform as prescribed, said an order issued by the Transport department of Delhi government.
The autos and taxi unions said they were ready to follow the order, but also urged the government to lower the Rs 10,000 fine.
A transport official said that initially the focus will be on creating awareness among drivers to wear uniforms as the city’s going to host the G20 summit and the government does not want to give a bad impression.
"All the drivers of taxi and auto rickshaw are hereby directed not to drive the vehicle, without wearing prescribed uniform, failing which challan will be issued for violation of permit condition," the Monday order read.
The "habitual offender" may face "stringent action" for not wearing uniform ranging from heavy challan along with either suspension or cancellation of driving licence or registration of vehicle, as deemed fit, it stated.
Wearing of uniforms is also mandatory for drivers of electric passenger vehicles.
Rajinder Soni, general secretary of Delhi Autorickshaw Sangh, said that the uniform will give the drivers an identity.
"However, there should not be a heavy fine, which is Rs 10,000, in case some driver fails to turn up in uniform because of any genuine reason. Presently, the fine amount is not fixed, sometimes drivers are imposed Rs 500 and sometimes the amount is higher," Soni said.
As per the Delhi Motor Vehicle Rules 1993, drivers of auto and taxi need to wear khaki uniform while driving their vehicles. However, around 1995-96, the colour was changed to grey for drivers and white for those who owned and drove their taxis and autos.
The drivers of autos and taxis have no problem wearing uniform but the challan has been a problem, said Chandu Chaurasia, president of Capital Drivers Welfare Association.
"Auto and taxi drivers hardly earn 2,000-4,000 per day. The Rs 10,000 fine is very steep for them," he said.
In 2021, Delhi High Court had sought a response from the Centre and Delhi government on a plea challenging mandatory uniforms for auto and taxi drivers in the city.
It was claimed in the petition filed by a drivers union - Chalak Shakti- that challans up to Rs 20,000 were being imposed on auto-rickshaw and taxi drivers for not wearing uniform. It was also claimed by the petitioners that the law itself was vague and ambiguous on the colour or type of uniforms.
It was not defined whether pant-shirt, Safari suit or Kurta-Pyjama qualified as uniform. Further, there was nothing about the type of fabric, colour and its shade, trims and accessories associated with the uniform, the petition had stated.
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