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HC scan on taxi refusal

A Metro report on three taxi drivers being fined Rs 3,000 each for refusing passengers

A division bench of Calcutta High Court has asked the transport department to file an affidavit stating the steps it has taken against the owners and drivers of taxis caught refusing passengers.

“The state transport department is directed to file an affidavit stating the steps it has taken against the taxis found guilty of refusing passengers,” the division bench of chief justice Arun Mishra and Justice Joymalya Bagchi ruled on Thursday.

The order was in response to a petition filed by Rajiv Sarkar on behalf of NGO India Smile, who sought the court’s intervention in the matter following the alleged failure of the state government to act against errant owners and drivers.

Metro has published a series of reports highlighting the tendency of a large section of taxi owners/drivers to refuse passengers if the intended destination is not to their liking.

The public vehicles department (PVD) had in March blacklisted five taxis — a first of its kind move — caught refusing passengers during a random survey by Metro.

Four of the five taxis were slapped with a penalty of Rs 3,000 each. Earlier, if penalised at all for refusing passengers, taxis would get away with a fine of Rs 100.

A rising number of complaints from passengers on taxi refusal prompted the transport department to penalise many other errant vehicles.

Later in March and in April the PVD fined six more taxi drivers Rs 3,000 each for refusing passengers, sending out a message that the administration would crack the whip on offenders.

The bench of Chief Justice Mishra and Justice Bagchi also directed the transport department to state the theory it applies to arrive at bus fares and what steps it has taken against autorickshaw operators found flouting road rules and misbehaving with passengers.

Petitioner Sarkar has submitted that the transport department only considers the seating capacity of vehicles while fixing the fares. “But in reality, most passengers in a bus are found standing.”

The petitioner also alleged that the state government has failed to take action against auto operators plying vehicles in violation of rules.

“Autorickshaws do not bother to abide by road rules, resulting in accidents. The court should ask the transport department to take strong action against errant auto drivers,” the petition pleaded.

The petition also alleged that many auto drivers misbehave with passengers and manhandle them.

“Our transport minister, who himself is the president of a taxi association, has admitted that his department has failed to take action against unruly auto drivers. If the government fails take action against the criminals, what will the common people do?” the petition asked.

The court also ordered all taxi, bus and autorickshaw associations to state their stand on the petitioner’s submission through affidavits.