Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Police not authorised to suspend driving licence of any citizen: Only transport dept can suspend driving licences, not police, rules high court-Calcutta High Court

The Calcutta High Court recently held that a police officer cannot disqualify the driving license of a person under the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988.

Justice Moushumi Bhattacharya said that only the licencing authority is empowered to issue and suspend the driving licence.

"The provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 show that only a licensing authority can disqualify a person from holding or obtaining a driving licence or revoke such licence. Licensing authority has been defined in section 2(20) and does not include any authority other than an authority empowered to issue licences. Section 206 refers to the power of the licensing authority to disqualify or revoke under section 19 and limits the power of a police officer to impound a document; this is by restricting the power of the police only to seize the driving licence and forward it to the licensing authority for disqualification or revocation." 

The State government relied upon a notification issued by it on November 23, 2016 that empowered the Deputy Commissioner of Police (Traffic) and Superintendent of Police of the Districts to act in terms of Section 19 for disqualifying offending drivers or revoking their licences if it is found necessary for the purpose of ensuring effective control of traffic under Chapter VIII of the Act.

The bench noted that though this notification refers to Section 19 of the Act, there was no evidence to suggest that the relevant provisions of the West Bengal Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989 were been amended to reflect the authorization given to the Police.

"The Notification in fact mentions that the Rules will be suitably amended in due course. Since the Motor Vehicles Act gives the power, in no uncertain terms, to the licensing authority and limits the power of the police to disqualify a person or revoke his licence under the Act, this Court is of the view that a later Notification issued by the State Transport Department cannot override the provisions of the parent Act," the judge opined, adding that the notification under a provision of any statute must be in aid of and in sync with the statutory scheme.

The notification in the present case results in confusion as to the licence impounding powers of the authority mentioned in the Act.

The court seized of a plea filed by the petitioner challenging the suspension of her licence by the Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP), Kolkata on May 20, 2022, for over speeding. The police suspended her licence on the ground that she was driving at the speed of 60 km per hour on a road which permitted a speed of 30 km per hour.

However, the court said that since it has come to a conclusion that the police doesn't have powers to suspend the licence of a person, it, therefore, quashed the orders passed by the ACP, Kolkata, who suspended the licence of the petitioner.


No comments:

Post a Comment