'Carrying original papers not a solution'

CHENNAI SEPT. 21. Motorists got a breather after the city police deferred their decision to ask drivers to carry the original driving licences from tomorrow.

Though the decision to carry the original document could still be applied from a specified date, a cross-section of the motorists were of the view that carrying the original papers would not prevent vehicle thefts or even lead to a decline in this kind of crime.

According to the police, the prospect of preventing vehicle theft and related offences prompted them to contemplate the move. But motorists disagree that vehicle theft and related crimes can be curtailed by making riders carry original documents. ``Incidents of vehicle theft are also on the rise,'' an activist said, a point, which even officials, accepted.

Addressing reporters on May 23, the City Police Commissioner, K. Vijay Kumar, said compared to the previous year, vehicle theft, especially of two-wheelers, was on the rise for the corresponding period this year.

Meanwhile, enquiries revealed that in New Delhi it was compulsory to carry the original licence and the Registration Certificate (RC) book and in Mumbai, only the driving licence had to be carried in original. In other cities including Hyderabad and Bangalore, there was no such rule.

``But in New Delhi, it is also compulsory to wear helmets,'' a civil engineer on a tour of the capital said, when contacted.

Highlighting the difficulties involved in getting duplicate documents from various departments, M.K. Subramaniam, secretary, Automobile Association of Southern India, said the procedures to get a duplicate licence were cumbersome. In the event of a vehicle owner losing the original licence, he has to report the matter to the police station and also get a no-objection certificate (NOC) from the Assistant Commissioner of Police, Crime Records Bureau.

The NOC has to be produced at the Regional Transport Office along with an affidavit on a stamp paper. RTO authorities said applicants can get the duplicate licence as per the usual procedure, after first getting a learner's licence.

Vehicle owners are of the view that in the event of a theft, the original documents would be lost. Citing police statements that vehicles might be detained if there is suspicion, motorists fear that it would lead to harassment.

Reacting to justification from the police circles that motorists carry original credit cards and ATM cards, motorists feel that those cards were carried only when the need arose. ``Even if we lose them, the companies arrange for their immediate replacement, unlike the licence,'' they point out.

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