The Stage-Carriages Act, 1861 was enacted on July 7, 1861 for the purpose of granting license and to regulate Stage-Carriages. According to the Act, ‘Stage-Carriage’ means all carriage drawn by one or more horses which is normally used for the reason of transmitting passengers for rent to or from any place in the States, shall without considering to the manner or construction of that carriage shall be believed to be a stage-carriage. The carriage shall be employed as a stage-carriage only after obtaining license from the Magistrate or Commissioner of Police of a Presidency-town.
Where an application for obtaining license is presented before the Magistrate or Commissioner of Police, the authority may refuse to grant license if he is of the view that such stage-carriage is not serviceable or not safe for the accommodation or use of the public. The license granted by the Magistrate or Commissioner shall contain the name, number and residence of the owner of the stage-carriage, the location of the head office, the number of passengers and the luggage that can be carried, the number of horses needed for the stage-carriage and the place where the carriage is licensed. To obtain license the proprietor of the stage-carriage shall pay such sum of money as provided under the Act or as determined by the State Government and the license granted shall be valid for a term of one year.
When a stage-carriage is licensed, the proprietor shall indicate the number of license and other details of the license which is painted distinctly in English language and the nature in a noticeable part of the stage-carriage. But if the proprietor lets the stage-carrier for hire without complying with the provisions of the Act, he shall be penalized with fine. The Act also penalized for letting a stage-carrier for hire without obtaining license. Any owner or his agent or driver of stage-carrier with license, deliberately grants permission to such carriage to be carried with less number of horses or larger number of travelers or greater weight shall be punished as provided under the Act. The burden lies on the owner to prove that such offence was not committed with his involvement and he had taken precautions to prevent the happening of the offence. The Act further provides that any person who brutally beat, mistreated, over-drive, exploitation, torture or procures to do so, any horse carrying stage-carrier is considered to be an offence under the Act.
The Magistrate or Commissioner under whose jurisdiction any stage-carrier shall work or who has issued license to any stage-carrier may revoke the license if in his opinion such stage-carrier or horse or any attachment used in the carriage is not serviceable or insecure or in poor condition for the use or accommodation for the public. Where the driver employed in a Stage-carriage or any other person responsible shall by intoxication, abandon or by reckless or by any other behavior, imperil the safety of any traveler or other person or damage the property of the owner, the offender shall be liable to pay fine as prescribed under the Act. When any charge regarding an offence committed under the Act is made before the Magistrate, he is empowered under the Act to issue summons to the owner or his agent, which shall be considered as a good service. The penalties imposed on the owner shall be adjudged by the Magistrate or the Commissioner and the decisions or orders rendered by such authority shall be absolute.
The Act empowers the State Government to formulate rules for the efficient administration of the provisions of the legislation. The Stage-Carriage Act, 1861 was enacted during the British regime in India and changes were effected to the legislation through Stage-Carriage (Amendment) Act of 1876, 1898 and 1914.