Vitriol against Motor Vehicle Dept. goes viral

Social media is rife with the righteous indignation of motorists fuming over the Motor Vehicle Department’s allegedly unreasonable and stifling fine regime for filling government coffers and lining the pockets of officials who have vouched to legally fight what they regarded a criminal smear campaign.

WhatsApp is flush with audio clippings of motorists claiming to have been on the receiving end of the department’s alleged “fining spree”, especially on account of unauthorised alterations.

These victims claim that anything from playing loud music, alloy wheels, minor discrepancies on number plates, and display of stickers of professional organisations are being fined hefty.

A theory being touted around for the perceived sudden surge in enforcement, and which has since then achieved some traction following repeated sharing, is that an arrangement is in place, whereby enforcement officials are guaranteed 30% of the fine, and only the rest goes to the government exchequer. That regional transport offices have been given stiff targets to fill up government coffers is another popular theory.

MVD, however, is planning to take legal action based on the IT Act against the smear campaign.

“Neither has the government ordered any target-centric enforcement nor is there any arrangement for sharing of fines between the government and enforcement officials. In fact, any such revenue-sharing arrangement in any government department is illegal, a reason why none of the accusers have produced any Government Order substantiating their allegations,” said Shaji Madhavan, Regional Transport Officer (Enforcement), Ernakulam.

After completely abstaining from enforcement for months following COVID-19 duties, enforcement is back on track, while there are a lot more private vehicles on the road owing to depleted public transport, enhancing the number of motorists charged. This may have created the impression of a sudden spike in enforcement, Mr. Madhavan said.

“The emergence of e-PoS machines has increased the speed and efficiency of enforcement while infusing transparency, as challans are generated with photographs of the offence. Earlier, vehicle owners were not even aware of challans issued by the department, and there was no deterrent against non-payment of fines. But now, they receive alerts about the fines instantly on their mobile phones with a link for online payment, failing which they will be denied all future department services,” said Mr. Madhavan.

He added that there was no special drive against unauthorised alterations, but only flagrant violations are being fined, since at least 50% of heavily altered vehicles were more prone to accidents.

The steep rise in fine for unauthorised alterations from a paltry ₹500 irrespective of the number of alterations to ₹5,000 for every alteration following last year’s amendment to the Motor Vehicle Act is also being cited as the cause for the heartburn.

But motorists seem unimpressed, as alleged incidents of fleecing in the name of enforcement continue to flood social media.

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Printable version | Jan 16, 2022 11:45:23 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/vitriol-against-motor-vehicle-dept-goes-viral/article32736934.ece

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