The late fine has been waived for the owners of ‘transport vehicles’ who have missed the deadline for the mandatory fitness test for their vehicles by over a month, provided they pay a one-time penalty of Rs 1,500 for each vehicle.
The order, issued by transport secretary Rajesh Kumar Sinha on Monday, also states that the owners of transport vehicles (commercial vehicles) who have missed the deadline by less than 30 days will have to pay a late fine at the rate of Rs 50 a day.
The exemption was “in the larger interest and in order to encourage proper maintenance of vehicles and timely renewal of CF (certificate of fitness) by owners of transport vehicles registered in the state,” the order states, and will be valid for a “limited period of three months” from the date of issuing of the order.
“The delay in renewing the CF will be counted from the date of expiry of the last CF to the date of production of the vehicle before transport department officials for inspection to renew the certificate,” said a senior official in the transport department.
Under the existing system, a fitness test costs Rs 850. Failure to complete it within the stipulated period (within one year of the issuing of the last certificate) invites a fine of Rs 50 a day. A year’s penalty works out to Rs 18,250.
The decision to waive the late fee comes at a time when several bus and minibus owners said a double whammy of rising diesel prices and steep fines for failing to produce fitness certificates had forced them to keep their vehicles off the roads.
The majority of pool car operators, too, have stayed away from ferrying students, despite the resumption of in-person classes at most institutions, fearing a crackdown for plying without valid fitness certificates. “After schools had reopened, the deputy commissioner of police overseeing traffic had asked us to ensure that all pool cars were ‘fit’ to ply. We could not adhere to this because many owners couldn’t afford to renew the CF after paying late fees,” said Sudip Dutta, secretary of the Pool Car Owners’ Welfare Association. “The order was the need of the hour.”
The waiver is expected to bring relief to hundreds of bus and minibus owners who have been operating without a valid fitness certificate and decided to withdraw their fleet after the state government announced on January 25 a new fine structure for violations.
In the revised structure, the penalty for plying without a valid fitness certificate is Rs 10,000. Earlier, the fine was Rs 3,000.
Several private bus and minibus operators felt it was better to keep their vehicles parked than pay the hefty penalty.