The recent order by the Hon’ble High Court of Rajasthan on cancellation of driving licenses of illiterate drivers is contentious at many levels.
In the Case:
Deepak Singh S/o Late Shri Surajbhan Singh (Petitioner) Versus The State Of Rajasthan (Respondent)
Hon’ble Mr. Justice Sanjeev Prakash Sharma rules:
“……..an illiterate person as he is virtually a menace for the pedestrians as he would not be in a position to understand road signs and notices of caution written on boards for human safety on the highways as well as on the roads in the cities. The license of Light Motor Vehicles issued to the petitioner and similar persons also must be therefore withdrawn in the light of what has been stated hereinabove.”
Article 21 reads as: “No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to a procedure established by law.” The bigger question now is whether the court is infringing on the right to livelihood of all the existing drivers, even though we make a note that by their negligence, drivers can’t snuff out lives of common people on city roads or highways.
The contention is whether there has been any study of accidents which prove beyond any doubt that negligence borne out of illiteracy has been the reason behind those accidents and even if that is proved can the courts deny right to livelihood to thousands of drivers who have taken up this as their vocation and at this point in their life they can’t switch to new professions or means of livelihood. On the other hand, every person out on the road to has Right to his Life, not impeded by any negligent act from a fellow being.
What should then be the middle ground, considering that Rajasthan does have a very high share of road accidents? I don’t think impounding or canceling licenses of existing drivers is the solution. This can be forward-looking legislation. The Courts should rather direct Govt. to run Preventive programs and ensure that all such existing drivers go through a literacy program which equips them with sufficient knowledge so that they don’t end up being a menace for the pedestrians as stated by the Hon’ble court.