Tampered meters: Whose crime is it anyway?

Union leaders say officials take bribes to let offenders go scot-free
Last Updated 10 September 2010, 19:00 IST

In line with this, both the Transport and Legal Meteorology departments have jointly been conducting inspections across the City. However, their assessment does not seem to be reflecting the real number of tampered meters in the City.

Consider this: Out of the 2,707 autos inspected in the last two weeks only 285 have been booked, of which only four were booked for tampered meters under section 37 (V) (VI) & (VII) of the Standards of Weight & Measurements (Enforcement) Act, 1985, and will face court trials.

As many as 42 registered cases under this section in 2009 are in different phases of trial in various courts.

Some of the auto unions, who are in the process of cleaning up after the latest fare hike backfired, confess that tampering of the meters is rampant and blame the authorities for not taking appropriate action.

Speaking to Deccan Herald, Auto Rickshaw Drivers’ Union (ARDU) Working President Srinivas Murthy said: “We’ve been receiving several complaints from commuters and have decided that we’ll co-operate with the authorities in punishing those who stray away from following rules.”

He however added that now he has been receiving complaints from various drivers that officials from the two departments are letting off drivers in return for bribe.
“I’ve received complaints that they ask for about Rs 500 for not registering a case against them,” he said.

Is this the real reason behind the huge gap between the number of complaints received and cases booked? “No”, scream the officials.

Legal Meteorology department Controller Maheshappa said: “These are false allegations. There are no reports of such incidents occurring in our department. If there is, let them provide the name of the official and action will be taken.”

Seconding his view, Transport Commissioner Baskhar Rao said: “These are allegations made to cover up the fault that lies with the auto drivers.” Explaining the gap between the complaints and the number of cases booked, Department of Legal meteorology Assistant Controller M Gopalappa said out of the 285 cases booked during the special drive, majority were under 39 (I) of the aforementioned act.

This section deals with the wear and tear of wheels and the meters, which directly impacts accuracy. Booking under this section invites a fine of Rs 2,000. “Sometimes the meter quotes more because of the gradual wearing of the meters,” he said, adding that “people do not comprehend this and the minute they see the fare going up they think it is tampering”.

Another section that invites the same amount of fine is 24 (VII) that requires the drivers to get their vehicles verified on an annual basis to check if the vehicle is fit. Bottom line, whether it is the authorities or the auto drivers that go with the tainted image, the burden of being overcharged is always on the commuter.

(Published 10 September 2010, 19:00 IST)

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