Mumbai: The Bombay High Court was on Tuesday confronted with a unique case in which a government official, posted at Solapur had travelled 254 km to Pune, only to conduct a fitness test on vehicles. This ‘duty’ that was discharged by the official after travelling such a large distance was termed ‘illegal’ by the HC since he was not authorised to do it.
The HC on Tuesday rapped the Maharashtra government, saying it should stop making a mockery of court orders and decide whether it wanted to strictly implement the Motor Vehicles Act provisions pertaining to fitness certificates of vehicles.
A division bench of Justice Abhay Oka and Justice Anil Menon were shocked to hear about the misconduct of the Regional Transport Office (RTO) department. The judges were surprised to hear about the conduct of the official – Deepak Mane, which has been going on since May this year, and interestingly, the Pune RTO’s higher officials were not aware of this illegality. The judges were hearing a batch of petitions seeking effective implementation of the Motor Vehicles Act, which mandates fitness test of vehicles before plying on roads.
During the course of hearing, Shrikant Karve, a senior citizen, who has taken the state transport department to task by filing this petition, informed the judges about Mane’s act. He claimed the official charged at least Rs. 5000 to certify each vehicle. He also apprised the judges of the fact that out of the 70 trucks, which Mane had recently certified to be fit, a total of 62 belonged to a particular company.
Having heard the submissions, the judges sought to know if the Pune RTO officials were aware of this illegal activity. A negative response irked the judges, who then slammed the department as well as the government for their ‘casual’ attitude. Justice Oka said, “This court has time and again passed several orders in these matters but we see hardly any compliance. And this acts like this compel us to pass harsh orders, which you (government) then criticise.”
“It’s shocking to hear the district RTO officials were not aware of all this given the fact that it was going on since May. But even now, though his facing a departmental enquiry, we do not know why he is still in service. Is this the way a government official must work?” Justice Oka observed.
The judges have now directed a higher official of the state transport department to look into the issue and file a report on the same. “We also want the government to spell out if it seriously wants to implement this court’s orders. We cannot see such acts which are making mockery of this court’s orders. Tell us on an affidavit if the government propose to implement the orders and if not, then we know to pass appropriate orders,” Justice Oka said. Meanwhile, the judges have directed the Collector of Pune to file a report confirming the RTO’s claim of opening up dedicated tracks for conducting fitness of vehicles in four places. The matter would be next heard on Thursday.