The city’s auto and taxi drivers can now stop worrying about having to spend the night in the police lock-up for a traffic offence. Over the past week, the Mumbai police administration distributed 200 temporary licence books, called LTMs, to all the local police stations to enable the latter to book these drivers in exactly the same way the traffic police does.
The move, a culmination of a meeting between various unions and CM Prithviraj Chavan, has brought smiles on the faces of the auto and taximen.
Currently, in Mumbai, all traffic offences involving auto and taxi drivers could either be tackled by the Bombay Police Act — generally used by the city police — or the Motor Vehicles Act, used by the traffic police. The provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act allowed a traffic cop to impound the driver’s licence after imposing a fine of Rs100. The driver was then given a temporary licence and he would have to collect his licence either from the court or the traffic police chowky within 15 days.
However, sections 102 and 110 of the Bombay Police Act required the driver to arrange a deposit of Rs1,250 at the local police station before he was allowed to go. The failure to arrange the deposit amount meant he would be kept in the lock-up until he was presented before a magistrate. The punishment was usually a fine of Rs300 or three days in jail.
“Many of these cases take place at night, and the driver would spend the night in the lock-up, since arranging Rs1,250 on such short notice is beyond the capacity of most drivers. We had raised this issue with the government last October, and it is heartening that the Mumbai police have finally implemented it,” said Thampi Kurian, chief, Mumbai Rickshawmen’s Union.
But for regular commuter Manish Chaturvedi, doubts persist. “We really hope the discipline among drivers in the city doesn’t fall further,” he said.