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Should focus be on public or knowledge of language: HC to government

The Bombay High Court sought to know from the Maharashtra government as to what was its priority while imposing conditions on autorickshaw drivers — the knowledge of Marathi language or ensuring that they do not cause inconvenience to the public.

A division bench of Justices AS Oka and Anuja Prabhudessai started dictating order on a petition filed by the Mira Bhayander Autorickshaw Chalak Sangathan, challenging a 2016 government circular issued to the regional transport offices.

As per the circular, from November 1, 2016, permits for new autorickshaws were to be given only to those applicants who could speak Marathi.

The rule, however, was not applicable to those who already had valid permits.

The condition was imposed under the Maharashtra Motor Vehicles Rules.

The High Court observed that the rules also imposed several other conditions, like the drivers could not refuse a passenger and should behave in a decent and proper manner.

“What about these conditions? Are they also strictly complied with? What should the state government’s priority be? Should emphasis be on protection of common man or knowledge of a language?” Justice Oka asked.

The court also sought to know if any grievance redressal mechanism was set up for passengers to file complaints against errant autorickshaw drivers.

“Is there any WhatsApp number or mobile app where people can file complaints? Suppose somebody wants to file a complaint against a driver who is behaving in an odd manner, what immediate protection is given?” the bench asked.

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