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HC puts 3-passenger limit on autos

Agartala, Aug. 13: Tripura High Court yesterday ruled that no autorickshaw plying in the state would be allowed to carry more than three passengers.

A division bench of Chief Justice Deepak Kumar Gupta and Justice Shubhasish Talapatra passed the judgment on a PIL filed last year by an NGO, Association for Research on People and Nature (Arpan).

The bench ruled that all autos must be fitted with meters and fares be charged according to the meter.

“I have myself noticed how the auto-rickshaws illegally carry passengers beyond their capacity, inconveniencing people and often endangering lives. Police have never taken action to stop this brazen violation of law,” said Justice Gupta, while reading out his order.

The Chief Justice, however, said to ensure auto-rickshaw owners do not lose out in earnings, the government can hold a meeting with them and fix meter rates but the interest of the passengers must be kept in mind.

In addition, the court in response to a plea by Arpan regarding re-introduction of city buses in Agartala, Justice Gupta said it should have been done a long time ago. “No capital city can have a proper transportation system without a town or city bus service. The government must re-introduce a city bus service. The government must also build infrastructure for the bus service including busstops or waiting places.”

He sought replies within four weeks from the state government and the transport department on the issue and posted the matter for further hearing on September 22.

Transport minister Manik Dey said he had not yet read a copy of the order so could not make a comment on the issue. But official sources in the transport department said re-introducing city buses might create congestion on Agartala roads.