DGCA slams state for sitting on anti-touting bill for 4 yrs

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation recently pulled up the state for sitting on the draft of the proposed Maharashtra Prevention of Touting and Malpractices Against Tourists Act, since 2011

Touts trying to fleece passengers at airports, especially foreigners, have been a long-standing menace in the city. Despite its damaging impact on tourism, the draft of the proposed anti-touting law has been gathering dust in Mantralaya for the last four years.

Touts at airports, railway stations and even tourist spots trick unsuspecting visitors to make a quick buck. File pic
Touts at airports, railway stations and even tourist spots trick unsuspecting visitors to make a quick buck. File pic

The Ministry of Civil Aviation recently reprimanded the state government for sitting on the proposed law for so long. In its scathing letter, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) demanded that the state home department promulgate the draft ordinance on the Maharashtra Prevention of Touting and Malpractices Against Tourists Act as soon as possible.

The draft, which also promises to extend anti-touting laws to railway stations, inter-state bus termini, hotels and tourist spots, has been stuck at the Mantralaya since 2011. The anti-touting bill was mooted a year after New Delhi had passed the Delhi Prevention of Touting and Malpractices against Tourists Bill.

The bill was introduced before the Commonwealth Games to prevent tourists from being taken for a ride in the national capital. The bill allows a maximum jail term of up to one year, or fine of R10,000, or both.

In a meeting held on July 13 last year, the GVK-led Mumbai International Airport Private Ltd (MIAL) had urged state authorities to clear the proposed draft ordinance. Last month, a letter was drafted by the DGCA to the state home department.

“Not only was the bill discussed in the meeting, but last month the DGCA demanded that the state clear the draft as early as possible. We will now have to dig it out and present it in the next assembly session for discussion,” informed a senior official from the home department.

Rising menace
The airport police told mid-day that in the absence of an anti-touting bill, they have to apply other sections, such as Section 110 (Indecent public behaviour) and 120 (Wilful trespassing) of the Bombay Police Act, along with other sections related to extortion and robbery against the touts and other miscreants at the airport.

“Till last year, the number of such cases never went over the 100 mark. However, this year within two months, 175 cases at international and 473 cases at the domestic airport have been registered against touts who were found harassing tourists. We are cracking down hard on the accused,” said a senior police official.

The Delhi bill
Introduced in 2010, the Delhi Prevention of Touting and Malpractices against Tourists bill ensures prevention of enticing, misguiding, coercing for shopping, accommodation, transportation, sight-seeing, pestering for any premises by particular person, establishment, dealer, manufacturer for personal consideration.

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