The Bombay High Court on Wednesday set aside a Maharashtra government order making knowledge of Marathi mandatory for those applying for auto-rickshaw permits, ANI reported. All regional transport offices were directed to comply with a November 2016 order that requires new applicants, seeking an auto-rickshaw licence, to have a “working knowledge” of Marathi language as well as the topography of the area they will be working in.
“Government’s emphasis should not be only on the knowledge of language, but also on passengers’ safety,” the bench comprising Justice Abhay Oka and Justice Girish Kulkarni said, Hindustan Times reported. The observation was made during a hearing of several petitions filed by auto-rickshaw unions.
The judges questioned the government as to how it planned on implementing the order. The bench also asked the government’s representative about ways in which the administration planned on ensuring passenger safety, citing the Maharashtra Motor Vehicle Rules, 1989.
“The contentions raised by the petitioners are prima facie correct. The government could have amended the rules before such a decision,” the judges said.
Auto-rickshaw drivers from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh account for around 70% of the states more than two lakh auto-rickshaw drivers, the news agency reported.
On November 17, 2016, another bench of the high court had heard a similar petition and deemed the order as “not unreasonable”, the English daily reported.