Sangrur RTA scam: Officials issued vehicle fitness certificate in 60 seconds
Officials in connivance with agents and middlemen were blatantly issuing fitness certificates without any physical verification of vehicles in lieu of bribes ranging from ₹2,800 to ₹1,000 per vehicle depending on the model
Patiala: Officials of the Sangrur regional transport authority (RTA) did not even take a minute to issue a vehicle fitness certificate, which otherwise takes at least 45 minutes, after charging hefty bribes, Punjab vigilance bureau (VB) officials privy to the investigation said.
The VB had on Friday unearthed a scam involving the issuance of vehicle fitness certificate in the Sangrur regional transport authority (RTA) office and arrested three people, including two employees and a middleman. A case was been registered against RTA Ravinder Singh Gill, motor vehicle inspector (MVI) Mahinder Pal, clerk Gurcharan Singh, data entry operator Jagsir Singh, middlemen Dharminder Pal, alias Bunty, and Sukhwinder Sukhi, besides private agents. The VB has arrested three accused, while RTA Ravinder Singh Gill and MVI Mahinder Pal are on the run.
VB officials who are part of the investigation say vehicle fitness certificates were issued without following rules prescribed by the state government. They said similar practise is being followed in most of the districts across Punjab.
During the probe, the VB officials found that the RTA office at Sangrur was issuing 2,000 to 2,500 vehicle fitness certificates a month, a Herculean task for any official. “Motor vehicle inspector Mahinder Pal was holding additional charge of two more districts, Faridkot and Ferozepur, and was responsible for the issuing fitness certificates to vehicles. He used to visit Sangrur twice a week, on Monday and Thursday. Every vehicle needs a minimum 45 minutes for inspection, and it is impossible to issue even 50 certificates in a day. But he used to issue 250 certificates per working day,” said a VB official who is part of the investigation.
The motor vehicle inspector also issued similar number of fitness certificates per working day in Faridkot and Ferozepur, said the official.
The VB has found that the illegal practice was going on in the entire state. “There is a shortage of MVIs in the state and every official is holding charge of two or three districts. Thus, they are operating through agents, who not only do the paper work but also pay bribe,” said the official.
As per rules, all commercial vehicles had to obtain fitness certificate from the RTA office in order to ply on the roads and all such vehicles along with their documents have to be physically inspected by the MVI in his office.
Officials in connivance with agents and middlemen were blatantly issuing fitness certificates without any physical verification of vehicles in lieu of bribes ranging from ₹2,800 to ₹1,000 per vehicle depending on the model. In this way, the RTA and MVI were passing the vehicles only on the basis of documents without physical inspections of vehicles that had to be parked at a specified place for inspection on the spot, the VB probe has revealed.
Chief director, vigilance bureau, Verinder Kumar said the investigation was on and whosoever is guilty won’t be spared. “I will be submitting a report to bring reforms in issuing such certificates,” he said.
Official with dual citizenship under VB lens
After the Punjab food and civil supplies department dismissed deputy director Rakesh Kumar Singla, accused of irregularities in foodgrain transportation tendering process, for having residency in Canada, more such officials have come under the VB scanner for having PR of foreign countries. “Punjab civil services rules don’t permit that any employee can have dual citizenship. However, there are doctors, engineers, professors of universities, teachers, and some PCS officers who have foreign citizenship. We are going to investigate such cases, said an official of the vigilance bureau.