Reduced to a farce

Licence Troubles

A little transparency can go a long way in making Bangaloreans feel more secure about the City’s services. This, at least, was the logic by which the traffic police suggested the auto licence display system.

Identity crisis: There are very few auto display cards in the City which are free of smears and blurring.

When the initiative was first introduced, display cards were printed and distributed — free of cost — to every single autorickshaw driver in the City.

The card contained all the particulars about the driver, including his DL number, address and photo identification, and each was stipulated to display it prominently within their vehicles.

This, it was considered, would offer some security to passengers as well as ease the process of registering a complaint against an errant driver.

But like most initiatives in Bangalore, the reality of this initiative is far from the above rosy-tinted perspective might suggest.

At the most basic level, the law does not require autorickshaw drivers to display their original card — which is why many take photocopies and distribute them among
themselves.

This leads to another problem: photocopies are often blurry, making it difficult for passengers to identify the particulars of the driver.

Some drivers take this to a new level by using water to blur out their display cards
at strategic parts — notably their addresses and DL numbers. From the official perspective, this issue doesn’t seem to constitute a problem because technically speaking, no outright laws are being broken.

“Autorickshaw drivers don’t have to display their original card in their vehicles. But, we know that the driver of these vehicles often change, so whichever card is put up — whether original or photocopied — has to be of the person who is driving at that point of time.

The photo identification should match,” says M A Saleem, additional commissioner of police (traffic), adding, “If it doesn’t, we book a case of violation of permit conditions and
impose a fine that can go up to Rs 2,000.”

Blurred licences, regretfully, are not something that can be tackled as per the law.
 “If a licence is blurred or spoiled, the driver can come and collect a new card free of cost. Of course, if a passenger has a problem they can register a complaint,” reasons Saleem.

Passengers, it seems, most definitely do have problems with blurred and incorrect display cards. Gautam, a professional, points out, “Just the other day, I noticed that the display card of the auto I was travelling in was completely blurred — especially the picture of the driver.

This could pose a definite security threat, especially to women travelling late at night. I always instruct the female members of my family to take note of a driver’s detailswhen stepping into an auto — it could be risky otherwise.”

Pallavi, a student, reflects that unclear display cards leave a lot of room for anonymity. “It’s quite a problem because if a mishap does occur, the passenger doesn’t have any proof or details of the driver’s identity.

If I want to lodge a complaint against a particular driver because he overcharges me, there’s no way of doing so,” she explains.

Another complaint that some passengers have is that while the display cards sport DL numbers and addresses, they don’t have the vehicle’s licence plate number.

However, Saleem feels this is unnecessary — “The DL number is what is important. After all, the licence plate number is visible all over the vehicle,” he says.

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