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Delhi High Court issues notice to Centre, Delhi government on Chaalak Shakti’s plea regarding compulsion of uniform for auto-rickshaw drivers

The petition also challenged the imposition of Rs 20,000 penalty on drivers for contravention of mandatory uniforms.

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The Delhi High Court has sought the response of the Central and Delhi governments on a plea filed by auto drivers union Chaalak Shakti, challenging the mandatory imposition of uniforms on auto-rickshaw and taxi drivers.

A Division Bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh issued notice to the Centre, Delhi Government, Delhi Police and the Union Ministry of Road Transport & Highways, and posted the matter for further hearing on August 20.

The petition also challenged the imposition of penalty of Rs 20,000 on drivers for contravention of mandatory uniforms.

Advocates Paras Jain and Mohini Chaubey represented the Chaalak Shakti Union.

They said the rules governing the field are vague and there is no clarity on either the colour of the uniform or what constituted a uniform, thereby giving a wide discretion to law enforcement agencies to prosecute drivers.

The plea sought to quash Rule 7 of the Motor Vehicles Rules 1993 on the basis that it was ‘vague’.

It also challenged the condition regarding ‘uniforms’ from the Permit Conditions of Vehicles Granted Permits under Sections 74 and 88 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 as being ‘vague’ and contrary to the Rules.

Appearing on behalf of the petitioner, Advocate Paras Jain apprised the Court that labelling drivers on the basis of uniform is in strict violation of their fundamental rights under Articles 14,19 (1)(g) and 21 of the Constitution.

It was also contended by the drivers union that Rule 7 of Delhi Motor Vehicles Rules oddly require the colour of the uniforms to be khaki, but also permit wearing of grey uniforms. However, the present petition sought to do away with any such requirement of a uniform altogether.

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“The drivers of transport vehicles such as auto-rickshaws and taxis are being prosecuted and heavily challaned to the extent of Rs 20,000 for not wearing uniform, though there is no clarity on the colour(s) and specifications, and there is stark contradiction and ambiguity between the rules and permit conditions,” the petition noted

It also submitted that while there are dozens of prominent shades of both khaki and grey, no shade has been stipulated and no definition of ‘uniform’ has been given, allowing the enforcement authorities huge discretion over who they want to prosecute.

Due to all these lacunae in the Rules, auto and taxi drivers are mercilessly harassed by the authorities, Mr Jain said.

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