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Build 250-metre track at RTOs or face contempt action, HC warns State

The Bombay High Court on Monday warned the Maharashtra government to follow its earlier order of constructing a 250-metre road track at all regional transport offices (RTO) in the State to test four-wheelers for issuing fitness certificates or face contempt action.

“Follow the court order or we shall issue contempt action against the Chief Secretary (of the State) or the secretary of the department concerned,” said a Bench of Justices Abhay Oka and A.A. Sayed, while hearing a public interest litigation. The court asked the government to give an assurance by August 29.

Currently, very few RTOs have road tracks and the test is conducted on public roads, which is very unsafe for the person driving the vehicle as well as pedestrians, the PIL, filed by social activist Srikant Karve, alleged.

The State government filed an application stating that it would not be possible to construct a 250-metre track at all the RTO offices due to unavailability of land. However, the Bench insisted that the 250-metre track would be quite safe and fulfil the criteria laid down for the test of fitness certificates.

Two years ago, the High Court had restrained four RTOs from issuing fitness certificates to motor vehicles, saying they were not fully equipped to conduct the mandatory tests required under the Motor Vehicles Act. Out of the total 49 RTOs in the State, the ones in Latur, Nashik, Pune and Mumbai Central were prohibited from conducting mandatory tests and issuing fitness certificates on the ground that they were ill-equipped and had not complied with the order of the court issued on February 28, 2014.

The court had then passed orders asking all 49 RTOs to provide the necessary infrastructure required to carry out the tests. If such condition was not complied with, the RTOs were warned that they would be restrained from issuing fitness certificates. Under the Act, it is mandatory for the RTOs to have road track for testing. The vehicles are made to run at a speed of 40 km per hour and asked to apply brakes suddenly.

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