Connect with us
Breaking News


Mumbai: Illegal share-taxi services thrive in city



Quite a few of the woes faced by taxi users in Mumbai arise from the fact that more than a quarter of the share-taxi routes in the city are unauthorised.

Not only commuters but even taxi unions have complained about the blind eye turned by the authorities to the operation of these unauthorised services.

The services are operated even at prominent locations like CSMT, Gateway of India and Churchgate in south Mumbai using Maruti Eeco vans which are officially licensed to carry six passengers but into which are often crammed twice as many, including children.

The police, however, claim the allegations of connivance against them are false and they alert the Regional Transport Office (RTO) whenever an irregularity is spotted, especially on camera.

“Several share-taxi routes starting from CSMT, Gateway, Churchgate, Mumbai Central, Mahalaxmi and Grant Road are unauthorised,” said AL Quadros, long-time General Secretary of the Mumbai Taximen’s Union, the city’s oldest and most prominent black-and-yellow taxicab union.

Commuters also said taxi drivers openly flout rules across different so-called share-taxi routes and not only overcharge passengers but also overload the vehicles.

“Anyone can spot the stools placed in most of the share taxies plying in the city,” said Mayuresh Kamble, 32, a resident of Dadar. “On Saturday I took a share taxi from the Gateway of India to CSMT and the driver charged me Rs30.”

Mr Kamble said he was asked to sit on a stool by the driver but he refused. The driver then requested another passenger already in the vehicle to take the stool and gave Kamble a seat in the third row of the vehicle.

Thane resident Ritesh Shah, 28, who travelled from Girgaum Chowpatty to CSMT, said, “I was first offered the front seat by the driver. Then he asked me to make space for another commuter. As I was in a hurry, I complied but it was very inconvenient.”

Mr Quadros said these unauthorised routes are being operated by local goons with the help of the traffic police.

But a traffic police officer dismissed the allegation and claimed that “in the South region especially, taxi drivers mostly abide by rules”, though the illegal operators are plainly visible on the main streets of Fort, a kilometre from the police headquarters.

The officer further claimed that “in case we do find something wrong and they are caught on CCTV cameras, we intimate the RTO, who take strict action”.

An officer from the Colaba traffic division said taxi stands are sanctioned by the RTO and the BMC. “We [the traffic police] have no role to play in the taxi stand part, but if we do receive any complaints, we check on them and, if necessary, act against the offenders.”

Asked about overloading, he said, “There are times when a single officer is out there managing the scene. Sometimes one may miss out on a vehicle or two, as it is humanly impossible to check every vehicle. However, if any taxis are found overloading, challans are issued to the owners.”

The irony is that some of the routes are operated from just outside the office of Maharashtra’s Director General of Police near the Gateway and the office of the Deputy Commissioner of Police (Zone I) at Bori Bunder.

Another taxi union leader, who did not want to be named, said these illegal share-taxi services are able to operate as they have the blessings of local politicians. He also blamed officials of the Transport Department for the rampant growth of unauthorised share-taxi routes.

“Getting approval for a new share-a-taxi route in the city is not easy,” the union leader said. “That’s why a large number of unauthorised routes have cropped up.”

Explaining the process of setting up a new share-a-taxi route, a Transport Department official said the union has to first send in a request to the RTO, which then approaches the department for consent. “If the Traffic Department does not have any objection, a joint survey is conducted. If the proposed route is found feasible from the point of view of traffic safety and commuter convenience, the RTO gives its approval and fixes the fare.”

The official also passed the buck on to commuters, saying they need to come forward and report errant drivers, though the violations happen on the main street in daylight.


Mumbai: Decision on information commissioner appointment after budget session




Eknath Shinde (1)

Mumbai: The decision on appointment of chief information commissioner and information commissioners will be taken after the budget session, said senior Mantralaya officials. The government, they said, will be considering applications of candidates other than administrative background as envisaged under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. 

Additional Chief Secretary (ARO&M), general administration department, Sujata Saunik said that the Chief Minister will decide on the date. “We will be filling up all vacancies. There is no decision at present on increasing the number of benches. Vacancies of only the existing benches will be filled,” she said.

Only 8 posts created in Maharashtra

The RTI Act provides that people of “eminence” in public life can be appointed as commissioners. In Maharashtra, only eight posts have been created, including that of the chief commissioner. However, the post has mainly been occupied by bureaucrats. 

As of now, four posts of information commissioners are vacant and that of chief commissioner will become vacant after April 13 when chief information commissioner Sumit Mullick retires. Manu Kumar Srivastava is said to be among the contenders for the post. 

The state government in February this year had issued an advertisement for three vacancies. “I have applied but we are yet to hear anything on it,” said Mohammed Afzal, one of the applicants from non-administrative background.  

Shailesh Gandhi, former central information commissioner, said, “I think they should be appointing people before they retire. It is too little too late to fill vacancies when posts have been vacant for long. Some activists should also get selected and the government should consider selecting some younger.”

Continue Reading


Bombay HC asks police to take down obscene video made public by Rakhi Sawant during press meet




Observing that ethical standards have to be maintained, the Bombay High Court reprimanded model actor Rakhi Sawant and asked the Mumbai police to take necessary steps to delete obscene videos made public by the actor of a fellow actor in a press conference.

Justice Anuja Prabhudessai questioned Sawant’s advocate as to why the actor indulged in such an act. “Why should you indulge in these things of showing such videos? Why should it be done for another lady? Some ethical standards have to be maintained,” said Justice Prabhudessai.

HC directs Mumbai Police to delete the videos

The judge has also asked Mumbai police to inform on March 28 whether such videos are available on any websites. Also, they have to inform the steps they propose to take to delete these videos.

The HC is hearing a pre-arrest bail plea filed by Sawant after the same was rejected by the sessions court. An FIR was registered against Sawant last October after she called a press conference and allegedly showed obscene video of a fellow actor and made defamatory statements.

Seeking relief, her advocate said that Section 67A, which was imposed on the actor, was non-bailable. The section deals with the offence of transmitting obscene videos.

Justice Prabhudessai questioned whether Section 67A would be applicable since the actor has denied transmitting any obscene video. According to the FIR, Sawant showed the video to media persons. Besides, the punishment for this, if found guilty, is only five years.

Further, the FIR does not say that the media has circulated all this. Also, the FIR states that the video is already available online.

The victim’s advocate pointed out that the video shown by Sawant was a private one which is not available online. She defamed the victim and showed the video, which is viral now.

The court then asked the police to check whether the video was deleted. If it is displayed then the same should be deleted.

The HC has kept the matter for hearing on March 28.

Continue Reading


SC wants Consumer Commission vacancies in Maharashtra filled in 90 daysSC wants Consumer Commission vacancies in Maharashtra filled in 90 days





The Supreme Court on Friday directed that the process of filling up vacancies of the president and members of various districts and the state consumer commissions be completed in 90 days. The order comes as a relief in the times of increased consumer awareness because all four district commissions have come to a halt owing to vacancies. In Maharashtra, 15 commissions have come to a grinding halt, including all in Mumbai.

So that the functioning of commissions does not stop, a petition sought a further extension to SC’s earlier order of allowing those whose terms were over to continue until fresh appointments are made. “Our contention was that till fresh appointments are done, there should be some arrangement but the apex court was not inclined to give that,” said advocate Pravartak Pathak, who appeared for petitioner Vijay Dighe who sought an interim arrangement. 

The SC, while hearing the matter of rules for filling up the vacancies in December last year, had given an extension to the sitting presidents and members till March. In March when it heard the case again, (decided on the rules and reduced the age of experience from 15 years to 10 years and made it uniform for president and members. It stated that anyone with more than 10 years of special knowledge and professional experience can become the president or member after passing both written and interview exams. 

Due to the retirement age, even SC’s order of extension could not be given effect to. State government officials said that out of 40 sanctioned posts of presidents, only 19 are filled. “We will be going to the committee to set the process of filling of vacancies rolling,” said an official from the consumer affairs department. 

Continue Reading