Police will no longer suspend or cancel driving licences, a government notification issued on Thursday says.
A senior official of the transport department will take the decision based on a recommendation from the police.
The notification lays down a standard operating procedure (SOP) the transport department will follow.
“The decision was arrived at considering that the transport department remains the issuing authority of driving licences. So only officials of the transport department can decide whether a driving licence has to be suspended or cancelled,” said an official of the department.
“The Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, lays down the procedure for the licensing authority to suspend or cancel a driving licence. The authority lies only with the licence-issuing authority and not the police.”
The notification — issued by Binod Kumar, principal secretary of the transport department — came “into effect immediately”.
The nine-point SOP states that the police will send a recommendation for suspension or cancellation of a driving licence within three days of seizing it or (if the driver fails to produce the licence) issuing an e-challan to the nearest office of the regional transport officer or the additional regional transport officer with all relevant documents.
The police officer concerned, who is empowered to recommend suspension or cancellation of the licence, will sign the document and mention his/her rank.
In November 2016, the state government had issued a notification empowering deputy commissioners of police in charge of traffic in the police commissionerates and superintendents of police in the districts to suspend or cancel the licence of errant drivers.
“The police were facing difficulties in many courts in justifying their decision to suspend or cancel a driving licence under the given provisions of law. The list of pending cases is growing daily,” said an officer of the state police’s traffic department.
The SOP states that a regional transport officer (RTO) or the additional regional transport officer (ARTO) will suspend or cancel a driving licence temporarily within 15 days of the receipt of the recommendation from the police.
“If not satisfied with the recommendation, the RTO/ ARTO shall call the offender for hearing under Section 19(1A) of the Motor Vehicles Act 1988 issuing notice with a copy to the recommending officer to enable him/her to give further evidence if any,” the notification spells out.
Senior police officers said that in the previous system, offenders would be asked to appear for a hearing before an officer of the rank of assistant commissioner of police in the traffic wing of the Kolkata police before a licence would be suspended or revoked.