Maharashtra Transport Dept Imposes Rs.50/Day Fine On Autos, Private Buses Operating Without Fitness Certificate

Maharashtra Transport Dept Imposes Rs.50/Day Fine On Autos, Private Buses Operating Without Fitness Certificate

Mumbai: The Maharashtra transport department issued an order on Monday imposing fines of Rs. 50 per day on auto rickshaws and private tourist buses operating without fitness certificates, which are essential for ensuring vehicle safety on the roads. A report in the Hindustan Times citing transport department sources revealed that 8-10% of rickshaws in Mumbai and its metropolitan region (MMR) lack these certificates, with some owners neglecting to renew them since 2016.

Fitness certificates certify that a vehicle is mechanically sound and safe for road use after undergoing a thorough inspection. However, this new directive has sparked discontent among the Mumbai Auto Rickshaw-Taximen’s Union, which has criticised the retrospective penalties being enforced by Regional Transport Offices (RTOs) for fitness lapses dating back to 2016.

“There are nearly 15 lakh auto-rickshaws in Maharashtra, including Mumbai. We demand the withdrawal of the Rs. 50 per day penalty for not renewing fitness certificates,” stated the union in a letter according to the report. Approximately 4-5 lakh auto rickshaws operate in the MMR.

Union Leader Urges Reconsideration On Penalty Issue

Union leader Shashank Sharad Rao while speaking to the Hindustan Times highlighted that around 15% of auto rickshaws across the state and 8-10% in the MMR are operating without renewed fitness certificates. He noted that the problem is particularly acute in Thane and Navi Mumbai, whereas it is less severe in Mumbai itself.

“Post-COVID-19, many auto drivers are struggling financially, unable to pay off vehicle loans, and some have even stopped driving. Imposing a daily fine of Rs 50 is too steep for many of them,” said Rao, urging the government to reconsider. The cumulative penalties could amount to crores of rupees, he further stated.

Fitness certificates are critical for ensuring vehicles are roadworthy. The union reportedly claimed in their letter that most of the auto rickshaws without valid certificates are those operating on shared auto routes locally.

What Does The Law Say?

Under Section 81 of the Motor Vehicles Act, a penalty of Rs. 50 per day can be levied on vehicles failing to undergo mandatory periodic fitness checks. This provision was challenged in the High Court in October 2017 but was upheld in April 2023.

An RTO officer while speaking to the Hindustan Times stated, “Vehicles without valid fitness certificates pose a significant danger. We are now reinstating this requirement.” The transport commissioner’s office reportedly issued a circular on May 17 to all RTOs, mandating the implementation of this rule.

Transport experts have welcomed this decision, stating that it will enforce greater responsibility among permit holders and enhance passenger safety.

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