Calcutta High Court on July 19 held that the Motor Vehicles Act restricts the power of the police only to seize the driving licence of an alleged offender and forward it to the licensing authority for disqualification or revocation.
Justice Moushumi Bhattacharya directed the Kolkata Police authorities to release the driving licence of the petitioner, who was found to be overspeeding while driving her car, within two weeks from the communication of the order.
Holding that the assistant commissioner of police, traffic department, did not have the power to suspend the licence of the petitioner, the court quashed the order to that effect by the police officer.
Petitioner Priyasha Bhattacharyya had moved the high court seeking quashing of a May 20 order of the assistant commissioner of police, traffic department, suspending her driving licence for 90 days from the date of interception on May 19.
Passing the order, Justice Bhattacharya said that the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, shows that only a licensing authority can disqualify a person from holding or obtaining a driving licence or revoke such licence.
The judge held that the licensing authority is no other than an authority empowered to issue licences.
Justice Bhattacharya said that Section 206 of the Act refers to the power of the licensing authority to disqualify or revoke under Section 19 and limits the power of a police officer to impound a document by restricting the power of the police only to seize the driving licence and forward it to the licensing authority for disqualification or revocation.
The petitioner had claimed in the petition that she was rushing back home to tend to her nine-month-old baby as she was alone at home after buying some essential stuff for the child from a mall in south Kolkata.
Giving relief to the petitioner strictly on the basis of the relevant statutory provisions, the court, however, said the reason given by the petitioner for violating the speed-limit of the road trivialises the issue of road safety.
“The excuse for overspeeding is no ground at all since the petitioner should have a sufficient ecosystem in place and not become a risk to other travellers on the road,” the judge observed.