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Tripura High Court directs Tripura govt to immediately halt unregistered rickshaws from plying

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The Tripura High Court has recently directed the Tripura government to immediately ensure unregistered rickshaws are prevented from plying in the state.

The Division Bench of Chief Justice Indrajit Mahanty and Justice S.G. Chattopadhyay disposed of a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by one Arnab Roy raising a grievance that without any sanction of law, rickshaw owners are modifying the rickshaws by attaching/installing a motor and as such, are operating them as e-rickshaws.

The Court observed that the safety and security of pedal rickshaws which are powered by battery is the main issue of contention, especially since unregulated/ unregistered plying of rickshaws in Agartala, in particular, and Tripura, in general, has led to severe accidents and safety and security of both passengers as well as rickshaw pullers are at stake.

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The requirement for registration of rickshaws falls under the Tripura Rickshaw Regulation Act, 2014 and is also governed by the Tripura Rickshaws Regulation Rules, 2019. Specifically, Regulations 16 and 32 which are relevant for our purpose are noted as under: 

“16. Registration of rickshaw:- 

(i) No rickshaw shall be registered under the Act and these Rules, if it is- 

(a) fitted with a battery or any other electrical device, which is powered exclusively by an electric motor, the thirty minutes power of which is not less than 0.25 kW, or 

(b) the maximum speed of the rickshaw is more than 12 km/hour, and 

(c) not fitted with suitable brakes and retro-reflective devices, prescribed in these rules; 

(ii) An application for registration of rickshaw shall be made to the registering authority in Form-4, within a period of seven days from the date of taking delivery of such rickshaw, excluding the period of journey and shall be accompanied by- 

(a) proof of present and permanent address (PRC), issued by appropriate government authority, 

(b) Certificate for Installation of Speed Limiting Device in case of pedal rickshaw fitted with battery,

(iii) Bona-fide owner of rickshaw will be issued with driving license and Driving license will be issued against 01(one) rickshaw only; 

(iv) Bona-fide license holder should get Registration. In no circumstances more than one registration should be made against one person. 

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32. Speed Limit:- 

(i) The maximum speed of a rickshaw shall not exceed 12 kilometres per hour and shall be fitted with an instrument so constructed and fixed in such a position as to indicate to the driver of the rickshaw the speed at which it is travelling and the speed governor of every such rickshaw shall be so set that the rickshaw is incapable of being driven at a speed in excess of the maximum preset speed; 

(ii) No person shall drive or draw a rickshaw or cause or allow a rickshaw to be driven or drawn in any public place at a speed exceeding 12 kilometres per hour; 

(iii) Any violation of the speed limit shall invite cancellation of registration; 

(iv) It shall be mandatory to install a speed controlled device on every three-wheeled cycle rickshaw fitted with battery, with such seal so as to make it tamperproof to control the speed of such rickshaws fitted with battery; 

(v) The technical expert agencies shall be empanelled by the concerned Municipality for installation and certification of speed limiting device on all such three-wheeled cycle rickshaw fitted with battery; 

(vi) The Municipality shall be able to hire Empanelled Expert Technical Agencies to issue Speed Limitation Certificate to such three-wheeled cycle rickshaw fitted with battery, after installation of speed limiting device to the rickshaw to control the speed to a maximum of 12 km per hour, on payment such a fees, as notified by the concerned Municipality; 

(vii) Non availability Speed Limiting Certificate in case of pedal rickshaws fitted with battery or pedal rickshaws without battery.”

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The Court is of  the considered view that it is essential that unregistered rickshaws are plying throughout the State of Tripura and, therefore, consequently unregulated.

Therefore, the Bench directed the respondent State as well as Agartala Municipal Corporation and all other Municipal Councils and bodies to immediately ensure that unregistered rickshaws be prevented from plying.

The Bench further directed that necessary registration be effected in accordance with the rules framed by the State there under, provided strict compliance of the regulations are made at the time of registration and frequent inspection is also required to be carried out to ensure that compliance is made even while operating the rickshaw in the interest of the rickshaw puller and of the public.

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