Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Manufacturing Illegality

Liberalisation - i.e., freedom from license-raj, quota system, state controls on ownership and entrepreneurship, etc. - apparently, is a selective animal. It is partial to some, and provides them with the legal freedom to make choices and live a life as they want. For others, it remains an elusive dream, denies them choices and, in the process, "manufactures illegality" of their status.

Consider, for instance, if you are resident of the Capital of this country.

  • you can buy as many cars, trucks, vans, scooters, mobikes, etc., in Delhi/NCR as you can afford.
  • you can buy only one cycle-rickshaw, by law. Just like other vehicles, you need to have a license to own it. Delhi's municipal law stipulates that "No person will be granted more than one such license."

  • the law also does not bar you from renting out or lending your car, truck, van, scooter, mobike, etc., to anyone who owns a driving license
  • you can legally pull a cycle-rickshaw only if you own it yourself. Delhi Municipal Corporation Act of 1957 stipulates that "No person shall keep or ply or hire a cycle-rickshaw in Delhi unless he himself is the owner thereof and holds a license granted in that behalf by the Commissioner on payment of the fee..." etc.

  • Delhi government is also quite liberal for those who can afford to buy a car, truck, van, scooter, mobike, etc. If you buy one of these, and can afford to pay, you automatically, and legally, get a license to own it.
  • Delhi govt has a limit of sanctioned quota of 99,000 licenses that it will/can grant to the cycle-rickshaw pullers. Given the fact that there are about 500,000 cycle-rickshaw pullers in Delhi (some estimates give a number of 1mn), almost 80% of them "illegal".

    The reasons for these laws for the cycle-rickshaw pullers are apparently out of the most benign intentions. For instance, the May '06 judgement by the Delhi High Court, (which passed an order directing the Municipal Corporation of Delhi "not to grant any licenses in future for plying Cycle Rickshaws on Delhi roads") noted that:

  • "in spite of various orders passed by this court, plying of cycle rickshaws on the main roads, narrow roads and congested roads has become a horrible experience."
  • "that plying of cycle rickshaws on Delhi roads by poor rickshaw puller is against human dignity and its result in exploitation of the poor people who as last resort take upon themselves the work of rickshaw pullers at the mercy of influential people owning such cycle rickshaws."

    Clearly, from the "legal view-point", the above two observations - congestion of traffic, and exploitation by owners - do not apply to owners of cars, truck, van, scooter, mobike, etc...

    The above is only an example. Similar rules and laws exist in other cities about street-hawkers, small-shop owners, vendors, slum-dwellers, etc...

    Wheels of misfortune
    Delhi’s graveyard of rickshaws
    ITDP's Position on Delhi High Court Decision


    Prometheus_Unbound said...

    Sir, where did you unearth such data?

    That's really an Alternative Perspective post

    Anonymous said...

    After reading this all I can say is that the jungle law prevails. "Might rules and the weak are overpowered".
    The law can be conveniently used, but is there any alternative suggestions for these people for alternative livelihood?
    No, the poor man is generally oppressed and continues to be the victim of such rules without any alternative relief whatsoever.
    Public awareness is on the rise, but slowly, mainly thanks to various information sources.