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Gujarat Govt to Impose Fines For Overcrowding In Vehicles

| Updated: May 16, 2024 14:19

Gujarat government is expected to notify on-the-spot penalties for overcrowding in vehicles, including cars, buses and two-wheelers soon.

Many vehicles were having a free run despite flouting the law because of the state transport department’s lapse in notifying the fines to the Regional Transport Office (RTO).

According to the Motor Vehicles Act no person, regardless of whether the vehicle is a transport or passenger vehicle, can carry more passengers than the capacity mentioned in the vehicle’s RC book. It specifies the penalty structure, with a maximum fine of Rs 200 per extra passenger for cars and other vehicles, and Rs 50 for two- and three-wheelers.

A series of road accidents in north Gujarat recently prompted RTO to conduct a drive and issue fines in accordance with the Act. This brought the lapse, left unaddressed since 2019, to the fore again.

In one instance during the RTO’s campaign, a driver was fined Rs 2,000 for carrying 10 extra passengers. The penalty was challenged in the office of the transport commissioner. While the RTO official who imposed the fine maintained that it had been levied in accordance with the Motor Vehicles Act, the penalty was waived in the absence of an official notification. A senior officer mentioned that RTO, too, was issued a show cause notice and later given a clean chit.

In March 2021, the SG highway-I traffic branch issued a challan to a vehicle owner for carrying more passengers than capacity and forwarded the case to the RTO. The RTO lobbed it back to the SG highway-I traffic branch, stating that on-the-spot fine did not apply as there is no notification. It suggested sending the case to the courts for settlement. The case was then referred to the chief judicial magistrate, Ahmedabad rural, who mentioned in the order that overcrowding was a compounding offence and therefore, such offences should be dealt with according to the Motor Vehicles Act.

The officer said, “Despite the chief judicial magistrate’s order in the case, there is no notification. It could happen after the election.”

Another RTO officer pointed to the lack of political will and conveyed the general belief that notifying the fines could open a Pandora’s box of cases, as almost all passenger vehicles – private and transport – in rural areas are overcrowded. In the absence of a notification, the provisions of the Act are not being enforced. As a result, no cases of overcrowding in vehicles have been registered in the past years. Consequently, there are no trials or on-the-spot fines, the senior officer informed.

“At least 50 vehicles from North Gujarat and Gandhinagar operate under Ahmedabad RTO’s nose, carrying 14-15 passengers against their seating capacity of eight. Over and above, these are passenger vehicles.” Several calls to transport commissioner Rajesh Manju for his comment went unanswered.

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