Although Satyendra Garg, joint commissioner of police (traffic) said, “At the time of offence bus had no legal permit to run on city roads, had no fitness certificate for the vehicle as well,” in an embarrassing cover-up Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit announced that the government has cancelled the ‘permit’ of the bus. The CM was apparently not aware that the vehicle’s permit had expired long ago. What is even more scary, the same illegal vehicle was used to transport children of two prestigious South Delhi schools.
In a telling example of the sorry state of affairs in the city, even though the police had impounded the same vehicle – DL1PC-0149 – six times in 2011 and 2012, the owner of the bus, Dinesh Yadav, managed to get it back from the court by paying penalty. Two drivers of the bus were also prosecuted in separate incidents for driving the vehicle without driving licence.
According to Delhi traffic police, the last time this vehicle was impounded was in July this year when Ram Singh, the main accused in the gangrape case, was driving it without any permit and fitness certificate. However, it was released by the court after Dinesh Yadav paid a fine ofRs.2200.
Earlier it was impounded twice at Kalyanpuri, twice in Sarita Vihar, once in Lajpat Nagar and once in Kalkaji. The bus was challaned two times when its drivers Sarvesh (February 2012) and Sonu (2011) had no valid driving licence.
Dinesh Yadav was allegedly running the bus illegally on DTC routes and had registered the vehicles on fake addresses as well. Earlier, he operated these as blue line buses but after the government phased them out, Dinesh registered them as chartered vehicles and started operating them on DTC routes between Delhi and Noida.
Interestingly, in one instance when this bus was found flouting the rules the traffic police suspended its permit for 25 days.
However, Dinesh went to the state transport tribunal which heard the case and reduced the penalty to just eight days.
“The transport department has to have a serious look into the process of issuance of permits and other documents,” said a senior police official.
Take tough steps
“We should have a system in place where vehicles which ply without a permit and do not have a fitness certificate, ferrying passengers illegally should not be returned to the violators of law who must be made to undergo harsher penalties,” Garg added.
The bus belongs to Dinesh Yadav, a Noida based transporter, who has a fleet of nine buses and the sleeping transport department has now awakened to cancel the permit of all his vehicles. Delhi traffic police is also looking into the records to check whether any of his other vehicles were involved in violations in the past few years.
“Government has cancelled permits of all the buses. But we had all the documents of the bus Ram Singh was driving,” claimed Rakesh, an employee of Dinesh Yadav, who was not available over phone.
According to Rakesh, Delhi Police are in regular touch with Dinesh and he has been examined several times after the gang-rape. “Could a harsher penalty structure have prevented this inhuman crime?” Garg Tweeted on Friday morning.
The horrific gang-rape took place in this rogue bus on the night of December 16 and triggered widespread protests in the capital forcing the police to impose restrictions on public movement in and around India Gate to avoid unprecedented protests.
The condition of the rape victim, meanwhile, has taken a turn for the worse, according to the Singapore Hospital where she is admitted.
Govt steps for safer Delhi
Five special fast-track courts to deal with cases of sexual assault on women will be set up in Delhi by January 3, Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit said on Friday. She had made a request to the chief justice of Delhi High Court in this regard last week. A day after it decided to deploy home guards in DTC night service buses, the government is also considering providing security cover in bus fleet that operates in evening. The round-the-clock helpline for women in distress, 181, will become functional on Monday. It will operate from the CM’s office and will be connected with all the 185 police stations across the city.