KARACHI: Banning the plying of motorcycle-rickshaws, better known as Qingqi rickshaws, across the province, the Sindh High Court on Wednesday directed the provincial and city authorities, including traffic police, to ensure immediate legal action against the illegal vehicles.
A division bench, headed by Justice Aqeel Ahmed Abbasi, gave the direction while deciding three different petitions against and for the motorcycle-rickshaws.
The bench that also comprised Justice Mohammad Junaid Ghaffar threw out two petitions filed on behalf of the Qingqi Rickshaw Owners’ Welfare Association and allowed the petition of a civil rights campaigner, Rana Faizul Hasan, against plying of motorcycle-rickshaws.
In its judgement on the three tagged petitions, the bench imposed a ban on motorcycle-rickshaws running without route permits and other necessary documentations on the main arteries of Karachi and in other parts of the province.
In his petition filed in 2012, Mr Hasan sought court order to ban Qingqi rickshaws running on roads. He asked the court to impose a ban on motorcycle-rickshaws, as they were running without route permit, registration and number plates.
According to the petitioner, the motorcycle-rickshaws were mostly driven by underage drivers and caused a number of accidents.
While the petition against motorcycle-rickshaws was still pending disposal before the SHC, the rickshaw owners’ body also moved the court in 2013 after a crackdown was launched on the three-wheelers.
The court noted in the judgement that the deteriorating traffic conditions in major cities of the province, particularly in Karachi, was because of unauthorised and illegal public transport, “particularly, the large number of Qingqi motorcycle rickshaws, which are being allowed on the roads with the connivance of the public functionaries, including traffic police, who appear to be either the beneficiaries or co-sharers of such illegal and illegitimate income”.
The court also dismissed the contentions of the rickshaw owners association, terming them frivolous. The bench observed that the motorcycle rickshaw owners had no locus standi to file such petitions and to seek any equitable relief from the court “as, admittedly, they do not have any legal authorization to ply such vehicle on public roads without any fitness certificate, route permit and registration in accordance with law.
Thus the court dismissed the two petitions with cost of Rs10,000 each to be deposited in the account of the SHC clinic.
The court also observed that the description of Qingqi rickshaw did not the match with the description of the vehicle prescribed in terms of Rule 2(e), (f) and (ff) of the Motor Vehicles Rules, 1969.
The court directed the provincial and the city authorities to take immediate legal action against all such illegal Qingqi motorcycle-rickshaws which were plying on the roads with impunity and without any fitness certificate, route permit and registration certificate. “Such action may include issuance of challans, imposing fine and also impounding of such illegal vehicles in accordance with law, rules and regulations”.
The bench also directed the respondents to submit compliance report within two weeks.
The court directed its office to send copies of the judgement to the chief secretary, home secretary, transport secretary, city commissioner and administrator for taking action against illegal Qingqi rickshaws.
The bench ordered the law-enforcement agencies, including the Rangers, to provide all possible assistance if so required by the local or provincial administration in this regard.
Published in Dawn, August 6th, 2015