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New Motor Vehicles Act fines may spur suicides: Maharashtra panel chief

“It broadly implies that both the Prime Minister and Home Minister may be having second thoughts on the new penalties in view of the ugly public mood”.

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Kishor Tiwari Farmars Leader

Nagpur (Maharashtra), Sep 11 : The hefty penalties imposed under the new Motor Vehicles Act (MVA) are “blatantly anti-people” and have the potential to spur suicides, the Maharashtra farmers panel chief warned here on Wednesday.

Kishore Tiwari, Chairman of Vasantrao Naik Sheti Swavalamban Mission (VNSSM), who enjoys a Cabinet minister rank in Maharashtra, said: “The financial penalties have been opposed by all people in the country, especially the middle-class. From all accounts we are hearing and reading in the media, it is turning out to be an anti-people move.”

Calling upon Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari to “immediately slash” the steep penalties to reasonable levels, Tiwari cautioned that it has the potential to drive commoners to suicide if it is thrust upon them.

“It must be noted here that Gujarat — which is the home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bharatiya Janata Party President (BJP) and Union Home Minister Amit Shah — has voluntarily reduced the new MVA penalties drastically. This proves that even the BJP-ruled states are against the revised fines,” Tiwari told IANS.

He wondered whether Gadkari will take a cue from Gujarat as “it broadly implies that both the Prime Minister and Home Minister may be having second thoughts on the new penalties in view of the ugly public mood”.

Interestingly, Maharashtra’s Transport Minister Diwakar Raote — who is from Shiv Sena — has so far remained non-committal on implementing the new MVA rules in toto, amid murmurs of discontent within his own party.

Reluctant to antagonise the masses ahead of the upcoming Assembly elections in October, Raote has referred the matter for the opinion of the state Law Department.

“There are apprehensions even among the RTO field staffers over its implementation…. RTO staffers trying to implement the new laws have been abused, assaulted, people dump their vehicles and walk away, one woman suffered a heart attack after she was penalised and many other incidents,” said an RTO officer from Mumbai, requesting anonymity.

When pointed out that recently, Gadkari himself revealed that he too was fined for zooming across the Rajiv Gandhi Bandra Worli Sea Link (RGBWSL) in Mumbai, Tiwari laughed and said “the common masses cannot be compared with any minister”.

“If a minister coughs up a fine of Rs 10,000-Rs 20,000, it matters little to him. But if a similar fine is slapped on an ordinary taxi or tempo driver who may barely earn that much salary in a month, his family would starve and the man would resort to suicide,” Tiwari pointed out.

Terming the new MVA penalties as “totally absurd and forced upon the country without consulting all stakeholders,” Tiwari said this could have wider economic implications in the future with disastrous consequences on the already groaning economy.

“Already, the automobile industry is in a deep mess, truckers’ associations have announced a ban on buying new trucks for five years… Now, even the common people, especially the middle-classes, will stop buying new vehicles,” said Tiwari who is working among the farmers in the worst suicide-affected areas in Maharashtra since 25 years.

With growing taxes, inflation, unemployment, high fuel prices and now the new traffic penalties, the common people are already switching over to bicycles, he claimed.

“Given the current economic scenario, does Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman or Gadkari believe all this augurs well for the country and fragile economy? What about the corruption it will breed on the roads, despite claims of ‘transparency’ made by Gadkari?” Tiwari asked.

He urged Minister Raote “not to succumb” to any pressures and reduce all the “loot in the name of MVA fines” to the “below Rs 100 bracket” with stringent implementation.

(Quaid Najmi can be contacted at [email protected])

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Private players to run trains on key routes: Railways

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New Delhi, Sep 24 : The Indian Railways is mulling the idea of handing over operations of more trains to private players in the coming days on several important routes with improved services and amenities for passengers.

The decision comes under the 100-day agenda of the national transporter to hand over operations of the trains to private players on key routes.

Earlier, the Indian Railways had announced to grant operations of two of its luxurious Tejas Express trains to Indian Rail Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) between Lucknow-New Delhi and Mumbai-Ahmedabad.

According to a railway ministry official, the national transporter has called a meeting of senior railway officials on September 27 under the chairmanship of Member, Traffic of the Railway Board to decide the operational issues relating to private operation of passenger trains.

In a letter to all the Principal Chief Operations Managers of the Central, Northern, North Central, South Eastern, South Central and Southern Railway dated September 23, Principal Executive Director of Coaching of the Railway Board, A. Madhusudan Reddy said, “As part of the 100-day action plan, the ministry has proposed that private operation of passenger trains be introduced to provide world class services.”

He said, “Under the railways proposal, private operators would be identified through a participative bid process to run private passenger day or overnight trains connecting important cities.”

“It is contemplated that the private operators shall induct modern passenger trains and operate them on paths allocated to them on payment of haulage charges,” Reddy said.

“Thus in order to prepare the RFQ (Request for quote) and concession documents, it is necessary to identify the routes and the number of services that can be run,” he said.

According to the railway ministry plans, besides the Lucknow-New Delhi and Mumbai-Ahmedabad being given to the IRCTC for operations, the national transporter is mulling to give trains to private operators on inter-city services on 14 routes, while 10 on overnight and long distance services and four suburban services.

The railways has proposed giving trains to private operators on long distance or overnight journey trains on the routes of Delhi-Mumbai, Delhi-Lucknow, Delhi-Jammu/Katra, Delhi-Howrah, Secunderabad-Hyderabad, Secunderabad-Delhi, Delhi-Chennai, Mumbai-Chennai, Howrah-Chennai and Howrah-Mumbai.

It has proposed to invite the private players for the intercity express on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad, Mumbai-Pune, Mumbai-Aurangabad, Mumbai-Madgaon, Delhi-Chandigarh/Amritsar, Delhi-Jaipur/Ajmer, Howrah-Puri, Howrah-Tata, Howrah-Patna, Secunderabad-Vijaywada, Chennai-Bengaluru, Chennai-Coimbatore, Chennai-Madurai and Ernakulam-Trivandrum routes. The railways has also proposed the operation of suburban trains in Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai and Secunderabad by private players.

The railways had earlier clearly said that before engaging private operators to run the trains, the national transporter will consult the trade unions and other stakeholders.

The IRCTC has started the booking of tickets for the Tejas Express between Lucknow-New Delhi from October 5 onward journey. The IRCTC’s Tejas Express will be flagged off from Lucknow on October 4.

The minimum fare for the Lucknow-Delhi Tejas Express has been kept at Rs 1,125 for the AC chair car, while the fare for Delhi-Lucknow Tejas Express AC chair car will be Rs 1,280.

On the other hand, the ticket price for Lucknow-Delhi Tejas Express Executive chair car has been kept at Rs 2,310 and the Delhi-Lucknow fare for Executive Chair Car will be Rs 2,450.

The passengers travelling on Tejas Express from Lucknow to Kanpur in AC chair car will have to shell out Rs 320 and Rs 630 for the Executive Chair car (ECC). For Lucknow to Ghaziabad travel, the passenger needs to pay Rs 1,125 for the AC chair car, while Rs 2,310 for the ECC. On the return journey, the fare is Rs 1,155 for AC Chair car from Delhi to Kanpur while for the ECC it is Rs 2,155.

All these fares are subject to the application of dynamic fare, just like airlines, the IRCTC has said.

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File affidavit detailing guidelines to regulate social media: SC to Centre

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New Delhi, Sep 24 : The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the Centre to file an affidavit within three weeks detailing statutory guidelines to balance online privacy, state sovereignty and the reputation of an individual.

A Bench, headed by Justice Deepak Gupta, gave the order while hearing a case on linking of Aadhaar with Facebook and regulating of the social media.

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Police can’t seize property during investigation: SC

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Supreme Court of India

New Delhi, Sep 24 The Supreme Court on Tuesday said that police has no power to seize immovable property during an investigation.

The top court upheld the Bombay High Court order.

A bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna had heard the matter relating to powers of the police under section 102 of the Criminal Procedure Code in respect of seizure of property during investigation.

The court was hearing Maharashtra government plea challenging a Bombay High Court order which held that the police has no power to seize property during the course of an ongoing probe.

The ruling was announced by the bench of Justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna.

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