The Hackney- Carriage Act, 1879

The Hackney- Carriage Act, 1879 act was passed during British period and came into force on 5 September 1879 this was framed in some cantonments and municipalities to have some control over hackney-carriages. Powers conferred by law on municipalities will not be affected by anything that is contained in this act.

Section 2 of the Act defines the word Hackney-Carriage under interpretation clause. It is the vehicle that is drawn by animals which is usually used for transportation of people that is kept for hire. Committee is a municipal committee as defined by the provisions of the Act. Section 3 explains to which municipalities the Act is applied.  It can be applied by the State government after Gazette notification to all municipalities in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Central Provinces, Assam, Ajmer or Coorg.  Coorg has amended this Act by Coorg Act 1940, and other places too have amended this Act by various amendments and repeals like Ajmer-Mewara Act of 1945, Punjab Act 1960, Berar Act 1941.

The committees were given the power to make rules under the Act.  Committee can from time to time form any rule/rules to control hackney-carriages that existed within the limits of a particular municipality area. It can make rules and bye-laws to control any other matters within its limits. Commissioner has the power to confirm the rules framed under this section and thus publish once confirmation was given by the Commissioner and it would have the force of law.  Same way the Commissioner has the power to rescind the rules framed.

Section 4 of the Act has been rescinded by repeal A.O. 1937 which dealt with rules for cantonments. Section 5 of the Act explains about municipality area’s limits or the extent of it which the rules can be applied to with the commissioner’s approval, it can also extend to limits of railway station.

Section 6 of the Act explains about the other rules that can be made under the above said Section 3 of the Act. No hackney-carriage shall be allowed to ply or hire other than those that have been granted license. No one can drive the hackney-carriage except the licensed driver.  License shall be given to the driver upon paying certain fixed fees and under prescribed conditions under the Act. Every licensed carriages shall follow certain conditions like provide description of the animals used and things used in the carriages, and keeping of the lights after sunset and before sunrise are to be followed.

The premises of the licensed carriages where it is kept can be inspected. Like the animals or other things that are kept there. Licenses are provided for a limited period of time and when that time expires the license can be revoked. Carriages shall be numbered. Person owning the hackney-carriage can let or refuse to let the carriage to anybody. Every hackney-carriages are provided stands where it has to be kept and they are prohibited to wait elsewhere except such places.

Rates and fares were fixed for every hackney-carriage and they were to be driven in a minimum speed.  Total number of persons and weights of the things carried in such carriages were within certain limits only. Printed list of fares were to be kept by the owner of the carriages and it should be in English. That list could not be destroyed under the law. When an authorised person checked the carriage the driver had to show his badge and the badges could not be transferred. If a person breached the rule made in the above said Act can be punished with a fine that can extend up to 50 rupees. All the amounts that are received as fees are to be credited to municipal fund.

All the disputes that arise with regard to the fees owed to the owner of the carriage by the hirer shall be determined by a Magistrate after an application has been made in that regard within the local jurisdiction where the dispute arose.  The decision of the Magistrate or the Bench shall be final. The driver of the carriage should take the hirer to court in case of a dispute and if he neglects then he can be punished for same. The driver can be imprisoned for a term extending to 1month.

by Sushma Javare