It fears the court order could pave the way for a large number of newly registered, permitless autorickshaws ferrying passengers illegally, adding to its burden of enforcement even as it is battling staff shortage.
In July, an auto driver approached the HC against the RTO Bengaluru central (Koramangala) after the transport department refused to register his vehicle as he lacked a permit to ply on city roads. The court said there is no need for a permit to register a vehicle.
An increasing number of auto drivers are now queuing up before RTOs across the city requesting registration, citing the HC order. “At present, we are allowing them to register only at the Koramangala office as it was a party in the case,” said a senior transport department official.
He said more than 2,000 autos have been registered at the Koramangala RTO alone after the court order. “It’s illegal to run autos without valid permits. But we don’t have adequate manpower to crack down on such violators. Most of them get away after paying a small fine even if they are caught by our enforcement staff,” he added.
All public transport vehicles with yellow boards need permits from the transport department. HG Kumar, former secretary, state transport authority, said: “If a public transport vehicle like an auto without permit is involved in an accident, the driver and passenger will not be eligible for any accident claim. When an auto driver registers a vehicle, he or she will operate it on city roads. Unfortunately, this aspect was not brought to the court’s notice.”
At present, there are several complaints against auto drivers for refusal to ply, demanding excess fare, violating traffic rules and illegal parking. “Our roads are already clogged with vehicles. They demand double the government-fixed fare and refuse to ply during peak hours,” said Sangeetha S, a resident of Koramangala.
C Sampath, general secretary of Adarsh Autorickshaw Drivers’ Union, said: “Bengaluru requires about 1.6 lakh autorickshaws. The recent HC order will further increase their number in the city. Most of these drivers who get registered ply on city roads without permits and usually refuse to go to areas where police checking is done. This will also give a wrong impression to all auto drivers.”