In a significant move, the Punjab and Haryana high court has given a green signal to the Punjab government to take action against unregistered travel consultants, ticketing agents and IELTS coaching centres under the Punjab Travel Professional Regulation Act. Now, the government is free to take legal action against the unregistered agencies thriving across the state.
What started as a court initiative in 2006 to curb travel consultants from indulging in frauds has come to conclusion now.
As per the records presented in the high court, as of now only 215 consultants are registered across Punjab against the actual number of such consultants running into thousands. Talking specifically of SAS Nagar, there are only 13 registered consultants in the district. Interestingly, not even a single ticketing agent and IELTS coaching centre is registered.
As per the deputy commissioner's (DC) office, 60 consultants were in queue to get themselves registered and the number is expected to rise in the near future. Commenting on the issue, SAS Nagar SSP Gurpreet Singh Bhullar said, "We are yet to go through the judgment copy and we would speed up the process accordingly. A special team will be put in place to ensure that all consultants get themselves registered. We shall also ensure legal action against the violators."
As per the April 27 court order, there was no pendency in the high court and the state government was free to prosecute any unregistered travel agent, owners of IELTS coaching institutes and ticketing agents. The new amended Act and rules have been in force and duly notified by the HC.
Earlier named as the Punjab Prevention of Human Smuggling Act 2012, the amended Act will be known as Punjab Travel Professional Regulation Act. The government made the amendments after having discussions with agents and consultants as per the directions of the high court.
After having consultations with the stakeholders, the government had agreed to take the registration fees in five instalments, remove the clause of minimum imprisonment for defaulters, submission of periodical finance statements to the government, and to modify the complaints redressal system.
The high court has granted liberty to the stakeholders to file fresh petitions to challenge the amended Act and rules. With the court order, the government is now free to enforce registration under the amended Act and rules. Now, any consultant, agent or adviser dealing in overseas travel cannot operate without a licence.
Requirements to get registered
Those in business for over five years need to pay Rs 1 lakh as fee, others Rs 25,000.
An affidavit stating you have not been convicted ever and other details, including income proof and business background
Details of clients along with the fee charged from them to be sent every six months to the administration
Verification of all information by police
Renewal of registration every five years
Administration's consent for holding seminars and putting up advertisements
Any proven fraud may result in cancellation and barring the operations of the firm
Why the Act
The Act was put in place for regulating the operations of travel agents with a view to check their illegal and fraudulent activities, especially human trafficking. Complaints of frauds by travel agents are considerably high as a large number of people want to move abroad in search of greener pastures.