Pune, July 27: AFTER citizens, it is now the turn of Pune City Autorickshaw Association to wield the Right to Information (RTI) Act. The association has sought details regarding cranes used by the traffic police to tow rickshaws. The association alleges that the towing vehicles themselves are illegal as they are private vehicles indulging in commercial activity.

The association has collected information regarding the vehicles used for towing vehicles. According to the record books of Regional Transport Office (RTO), two vehicles - MH-12JA-4853 and MH-14B-4792 - are private vehicles.

“How can a private vehicle do commercial work? They have not yet transferred the vehicles to transport section. They are fooling the State government as they are performing a commercial activity without paying any tax,” said association president Baba Shinde.

In a RTI requisition filed by Shinde on April 16, he had sought information regarding permission given to private vehicles for towing away vehicles especially rickshaws obstructing the flow of traffic. The requisition had also asked information regarding how the crane owner is powered to issue the receipt for towing charges with a government stamp and the amount they have been collecting.

However, traffic branch’s reply came only on May 30 instead of May 16 — almost 15 days after the time limit of a month. The answer has mentioned a contract in May 2006 between former deputy commissioner of police Ajit Patil and Janardan Malkhaji Bakre giving him powers to tow away vehicles obstructing traffic.

The traffic police said they have the powers to tow vehicles or assign a private party to do so in case if it is causing an obstruction in flow of traffic under the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988. According to traffic police, the contract empowers a private player to fine towing charges while the former certifies the receipt books. The fine collected by the contractor is used to pay for men, petrol and drivers.

Automen resort to RTI against towing vehicles