Touts have a free rein in RTOs

VACB recovers cash, vehicle records from agents and motor vehicle inspectors

Statewide surprise inspections carried out by officials of the Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau (VACB) on Friday unearthed widespread irregularities in Regional Transport Offices (RTOs) and exposed the thriving nexus between officials in the Motor Vehicles Department (MVD) and touts.

Codenamed Operation Ujala, the inspection revealed that hundreds of applications for temporary and permanent registration, vehicle licence, hypothication, driving school licence, cancellation of registration certificate and learner’s licence were piling up at various RTO offices. Recommendations from the Police Department for cancellation of 220 driving licences for traffic offences were found pending for months without disposal.

The VACB team led by Inspector General of Police H. Venkatesh and Superintendent E.S. Bijumon recovered cash and vehicle records from agents and motor vehicle inspectors. The officials found that touts were involved in the daily operations of several RTOs. The agents were distributing RC books and licence to applicants. At Thalassery, the team came across 56 fitness certificates abandoned by agents.

At the Pala RTO, the raid on the computer of an MVD official unveiled details of the cash received from touts and the vehicle records handled by them. Seventy licences and 65 unstamped applications were also recovered from a tout. At Devikulam and Cherthala, agents were found in possession of files relating to road test of vehicles. At several RTO and Joint RTO offices, applications handled by MV officials were found with the names of agents or codes to identify them.

The VACB team came across instances in which vehicles were issued fitness certificate without being produced for inspection while in some cases, officials had failed to carry out the mandatory fitness tests.

As many as 2,500 driving licences and 50 registration books were found to have piled up at the RTO, Kasaragod, without being despatched. At the Thiruvananthapuram RTO, registers relating to registration, fitness renewal and postal despatch were not maintained and the Vahan Sarathi software was not updated.

Surveillance cameras

The inspection revealed that the surveillance cameras at the driving test grounds at Attingal, Parassala, Idichakkaplamoodu and Pala were not functioning while no camera was installed at Thalassery.

A press note quoting Vigilance Director Anil Kant said a detailed report would be submitted to the government for action.

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