Errant Uber driver who caused Mumbra woman's death loses his licence
mid-day impact >> Following a series of reports about how rash driving by a taxi driver caused a Mumbra woman's death, RTO suspends his licence for six months
Three months after this paper published a series of stories on Uber drivers' callous attitudes, the Wadala RTO has finally suspended the driving licence of Inderjeet Singh Bhatti, who was behind the wheel on June 12, holding him responsible for the accident that killed IT professional Tanzila Shaikh, 35.
On November 13, the Wadala RTO had issued the order, also blocking the licence online, something that will remain on record forever and can be accessed by other state RTOs, in case Bhatti tries to make a new one, said a senior RTO official.
The RTO order, a copy of which is with mid-day, also states that Bhatti had failed to give a satisfactory reply during the recording of his statement, and therefore, has been found guilty of violating section 184 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988.
'Ban such drivers for good'
Abhay Deshpande, regional transport officer, Andheri, who also holds the additional charge of deputy commissioner (enforcement-2), said, "Before taking stringent action, we need to record the driver's statement. [Once done] necessary action under the Motor Vehicles Act is taken."
Tanzila's husband Muzammil said, "I am pleased that at least his licence has been suspended, but such drivers should be barred from driving for good. We are yet to know if the cab had insurance papers in place or not. I have decided to take up the matter with the Motor Vehicle Tribunal and will also mull over legal action against Uber for never accepting their blunder.
"The stretch where the accident happened is covered by CCTV cameras. I had logged on to the traffic website to get footage of that fateful day; instead, I found out that someone had paid the driver's e-challan a month later, on July 12. The traffic police cameras on Eastern Express Highway had caught the driver committing traffic violations on two occasions in April 2018, and yet, nothing was done."
A senior state transport official said, "Under the Motor Vehicles Act, suspension of driving licence is a strict action. The record will remain forever and can be accessed by any RTO across India."
When asked if this would be a rare case wherein licence is suspended for an offence under IPC section 304 (a), the official added, " RTOs abide by the Motor Vehicles Act and are authorised to take appropriate action for violation of traffic rules only; they have nothing to do with IPC provisions."
In the driver's seat
As of yesterday, it was found that the errant driver was still driving. Speaking to mid-day from Pune, Bhatti admitted that he drives private vehicles as and when he is called by private travel agents from Mumbai. "I manage to earn around `15,000 a month. I have to, otherwise who will feed my family and pay for my children's studies? But I do feel sorry about the accident and the loss of life. I had even dared to visit the bereaved family to apologise, my folks were scared I would be lynched." When asked if he was aware about the latest RTO order, he said, "I haven't got any such order so far. I will visit the RTO to get clarity. If they say I cannot drive, I will abide by the order."
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