Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Out-of-date records help auto drivers ride away scot-free

Out-of-date records help auto drivers ride away scot-free

Notices are issued to those who hold the registration number of the errant auto, but that number may have little to do with offender

Aparajita Ray

Ever complained about an auto driver and wondered later what became of it? Chances are, very little.
Nearly 32,000 cases have been booked against errant auto drivers in July 2010 alone. Police officials say that nearly a lakh cases are booked each year against auto drivers. What happens after the complaints are booked, however, is a long story.
Policemen say that notices are sent routinely to those against whom complaints are received. However, the notices never quite find their way to the real culprits. Why? Because even the Road Transport Office (RTO) does not have updated information about the owners of vehicles that have changed hands frequently.
At the root of this problem lies the registration certificate. This certificate is issued to the owner of the vehicle. However, the owner of the auto might have sold it to someone else, without updating the records available at the RTO. An auto might change hands several times over, or be driven by someone who does not own it. In such cases, there is no way that one can make the connection between the registration number and the errant auto driver.
Prabhakar Bayeri, traffic inspector, Ulsoor Gate police station, said, "Our assistant sub-inspectors and sub-inspectors register complaints. These are immediately converted to cases and notices are issued to the addresses mentioned in the registration certificate. Unfortunately, though, the ones who receive the notices often have very little to do with the offence, as many owners may have sold the vehicle to someone else, who might be responsible for the offence. That is the problem we face."
For the city traffic police, attending to complaints about auto drivers charging exorbitant fares is low on the priority list: "There are six junctions very near the police station. Our main aim is to clear traffic on the roads and see to it that the vehicles ply safely. We care for the passengers and the pedestrians, and even when we see instances of fleecing by auto drivers under our very noses, we cannot always intervene," said Bayeri. Ulsoor Gate traffic police station alone has registered 1,437 autos under different cases this year.
Cases can be booked against autos for parking in no-parking zones and within the compound of BMTC bus stations; for refusing to go on hire; for demanding excessive amounts as fares, and against drivers not wearing their uniform or unable to display their driving licence cards. Even autos carrying more than the maximum of three passengers may be booked.
The traffic and security headquarters revealed that in the last seven months, 21,000 autos were booked for refusing to go on hire; 11,000 were booked for demanding excessive amounts as fare.
Additional commissioner of police (traffic), Praveen Sood said that the Rs100 fine imposed on errant auto drivers can act as a deterrent. However, he added that while the police force could act to penalise auto drivers who create problems for commuters, the transport department had a far larger role to play in the matter. "The transport department should not renew licenses of drivers against whom there are more than three pending cases. As soon as such strict drives are taken jointly by the transport department and traffic police, drivers will not fleece people with impunity," Sood said.
Sood also said that complaint cards will soon be made readily available in schools, hospitals, malls and all important junctions in the city. The commuter could either post filled cards or drop them off personally at the nearest police station, he said.


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