Officials of the Regional Transport Offices (RTOs) have said they are not authorised to book auto-rickshaw drivers caught for rigging their meters under section 420 (cheating) of the Indian Penal Code. They have also refused to lodge complaints against errant drivers with local police stations.
“RTOs are not authorised to enforce the IPC. Only the police department has that authority and they can register complaints against errant drivers under this section if they witness any incident. We will continue to book drivers only under the Motor Vehicle Act, 1988,” said Bharat Kalaskar, deputy regional transport officer, Andheri RTO.
RTO authorities said that registering complaints under the IPC before would require a policy review by higher authorities, which would in turn require an in-depth legal and viability study of all districts.
“We haven’t been intimated in this regard. Higher authorities may be considering it,
but if it’s enforced, it would be applicable to the entire state. The probability of such a policy change is very low,” said a senior official from Wadala RTO who requested anonymity. The traffic police have said that only the person cheated by an unscrupulous auto-rickshaw driver can lodge a complaint under section 420 of the IPC.
Brijesh Singh, additional commissioner of traffic, said, “IPC is a general act. The traffic police can interpret the IPC but enforcing it for motor vehicle-related offences would prove to be too harsh. For that, we have the Motor Vehicle Act.”
“Disciplining drivers is the primary duty of the RTOs. However, if a police complaint is lodged by a RTO, police will take suitable action,” Singh added.
SPS Yadav, former additional commissioner of police in-charge (traffic) said, “The initiative to lodge a police complaint against errant auto-rickshaw drivers was put forth by the traffic control department during my tenure.”