For more than 20 years, regional transport offices across Maharashtra have been issuing transport licences to drivers of public transport vehicles such as autos, mini buses and tourist taxis, in violation of their own rule.
The Motor Vehicle Act, 1988, requires all applicants for the transport category licence to have a year’s experience before they are issued a licence. RTOs, unaware of this until a week ago, have been issuing the licences for transport category light motor vehicles and 3-wheelers, to people who only held a valid learner’s licence.
The rule asking for a year’s experience was introduced in the Act through an amendment to a section in 1994. However, the RTOs had not adopted it.
The blunder came to light after the transport department implemented an online system in December for appointments to apply for all licences. As the system is programmed to only accept those applications that comply with the rules, many people were unable to go through with the process.
Sources in the RTO said there is no provision to get an appointment for LMV transport and three-wheeler transport licences without feeding earlier licence details in the system. So people were unable to book their appointments.
“The RTOs started getting complaints, after which they wrote to the transport commissioner’s office, and the issue came to the fore,” said an official, requesting anonymity.
This is a glaring error, considering Maharashtra records the most road accidents in a year. The ignorance of their own rule also put in danger the lives of passengers, as licences were being given to drivers with less experience.
The transport commissioner’s office has now issued a clarification, dated March 17, asking all RTOs to follow the one year experience norm prescribed in the act. Satish Sahastrabuddhe, additional transport commissioner, confirmed: “Yes, we have
communicated to the RTOs, but it is in the nature of a clarification.”
What the rules state:
Section 7(1) of Motor Vehicle Act, 1988:
* No person will be granted a learner’s licence for a transport vehicle, unless he has held a licence to drive a light motor vehicle for at least one year
* Section 7 of the Motor Vehicle Act was amended in 1994, which is when the changes for getting a driving licence under the transport category came into effect
What is the difference between non-transport and transport licences?
* A non-transport licence for light motor vehicles is valid for all LMVs such as cars, jeeps, small vans for personal purposes
* But if a person is paid to drive vehicles for commercial purposes, s/he must have a transport driving licence
* The non-transport licence is valid for 20 years; transport licence is valid for only 5 years
Online process brings issue to the fore
* The department implemented an online system to get appointments to apply for transport licences
* As the system is programmed to only accept those applications that fulfill the rules, many people were unable to go through with the process