The Delhi High Court today sought the stand of the Delhi government on a plea concerning the mandate of uniform to be worn by auto drivers in the city.

While noting the ambiguity on the issue in the permit conditions and the motor vehicle rules, a bench headed by Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma granted time to the government counsel to clarify whether khaki or grey coloured uniform is prescribed for auto drivers in the national capital.

The bench, also comprising Justice Subramonium Prasad, was hearing a petition by Chaalak Shakti, a drivers' union, which has challenged mandatory uniform for auto rickshaw and taxi drivers and alleged that such labelling was in violation of the Constitution. The petitioner's counsel said prescribing a uniform curtailed the drivers' freedom of expression and also acted as a symbol of their status. The court orally remarked that the idea behind a uniform is identification of those wearing it.

The Delhi government counsel sought time to clarify its stand and said certain discipline has to be followed in relation to uniforms.

In its plea, the petitioner has alleged that hefty challans of up to Rs 20,000 were being imposed on drivers in the national capital for not wearing uniforms even though the law on the subject was vague and ambiguous. It has been submitted there is complete ambiguity about the colour of uniform to be worn by auto drivers on duty as Rule 7 of Delhi Motor Vehicles Rules, 1993 prescribes khaki but the permit conditions laid down by the state authorities mandate grey.

The petition also highlighted there are dozens of prominent shades of both khaki and grey, and since no particular shade had been stipulated, the enforcement authorities enjoyed a huge discretion about who they wanted to prosecute. It has also stated the uniform itself has not been defined so as to mean pant-shirt, safari suit or kurta-pajama and that even specifications of fabrics, trims, and accessories are also absent.

The pain and damage inflicted by the vagueness and ambiguity in respect of the uniform is immense and most of the well-known metropolitan cities such as London, New York, Hong Kong, Sydney, and Dubai did not prescribe any uniform for taxi drivers, the plea said. The matter will be heard next on May 17.

With PTI Inputs