My Thoughts

Filing an RTI Online, my experience

One of the good things to come out of Congress lead UPA Government is the RTI (Right to Information Act), which lets us, the common man have access to information residing with the government departments/ministries, in a bid to promote transparency and accountability.

Indian Government has even gone to the length of providing a way to file RTI Applications online through their online portal, RTI Online. Wherein you can file an RTI with any Central Government Ministry/Department and make the required payment (usually Rs. 10 per RTI) through internet banking, debit and credit cards. All of this sounds very easy and convenient, and believe me, to a certain degree it is. In fact it is as simple as filling out an easy one page form and making the payment online, just like you would at any ecommerce site.

So when little over a month ago, while talking with a friend, subject of Hill Driving License came up, I wanted to make sure I was correct in telling him that there is no such thing. Upon searching online, I could only find vague answers and opinions about it, but nothing concrete.

riding-in-hills

So I decided to file an RTI online, with the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways. Hoping that I would get final and accurate answers to my queries, which would help settle this matter, once and for all.

Here are the questions I asked in my RTI application:

What is a Hill or Hazardous Endorsement for a driving license and for whom is it required?

Which states require Hill Driving license/endorsement?

Is Hill Driving license/endorsement required for driving personal vehicles (cars, SUVs, and two wheelers)?

Is Hill Driving license/endorsement required for driving taxis?

Is Hill Driving license/endorsement required for heavy vehicles?

How and where does one apply for Hill Driving license/endorsement?

What is the penalty for driving a vehicle in hills, without hill driving license/endorsement?

I had filed this RTI on 30th August 2013 and I finally received a response from Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, yesterday, 5th October 2013, which is dated 1st October 2013 and states:

Please refer to your application dated 30.08.2013 received by the undersigned on 02.09.2013 under RTI Act, 2005.

2. Provision regarding issue of learner’s license and driving license are contained in Chapter II of Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 (MV Act) and Chapter II of Central Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989 (CMVRs). Both MV Act and CMVRs are available on this Ministry’s Office Website: www.morth.nic.in. Educational qualification for drivers of goods carriages carrying dangerous or hazardous goods are prescribed in the rule 9 of CMVRs. The provisions regarding endorsement in the driving license to the effect that the holders of the driving is authorized to drive a goods carriage carrying goods of dangerous or hazardous nature, are contained in sub-rule (2) of the rule 9 of CMVRs.

3. The particulars of Appellate Authority are as under :-

Shri Sanjay Bandopadhyaya, Joint Secretary (Transport), Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, Transport Bhawan, 1, Parliament Street, New Delhi -110001 (Tel. No. 23351061).

Now it is extremely difficult for a lay person like me to make head or tails of what is written above and how it is relevant to the questions I asked in my RTI. Furthermore, I tried to have a quick glance at the Chapter II of Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 (MV Act) and Chapter II of Central Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989 (CMVRs), I couldn’t find anything related to hill driving license, leading me to conclude that it isn’t required, though I am still not 100% sure, because I neither have the time, nor the intellectual fortitude to swift through these entire chapters to confirm the same (in case you know for certain, please let me know by commenting below).

This experience has taught me one thing, Government and Politicians can bring in all the legislations and laws they want, at the end of the day, it is the common man, sitting in a government office, who has to implement these and without proper implementation, these rules and laws are worthless, because they raise a hope in the heart and mind of the populace, which comes crashing down with answers like these!

12 Comments

  1. These laws, policies, rules, regulations are always well thought and planned. The problem comes at the time of an implementation. I wish our admins be as smooth with the implementation as they are with the planning. Planing is under ideal conditions and implementation is real-time. Real Time means bugs and failures and accountability, and that’s what our admins fear to own.

    Good One Yogesh!

  2. Sanchit Gulati says:

    Totally agree with you YS and Tarun. The rules don’t make sense if they are not implemented to benefit the common man. We talk about making new policies and rules (many of them already exist); its just they are not implemented as they should be. In this case it seems that the Babu sat on your questions for a week and later gave up to whatever he thought can work as a reply.

  3. Yogesh,

    I did try to go through Chapter II of the MV Act (1988) and the CMVR (1989). I did not find any reference to Hill driving permits. I am not a lawyer but my guess is that this in an invention of the Taxi Operators Unions to protect their turf. This is the unfortunate part of our laws. They are quite open ended and can be twisted to serve vested interests.

    • Rattan, usually it is the cops who fleece people for bribes by quoting such rule. Which is why I am interested in obtaining a definite official answer to this, so that we, travelers can show that to those, who try to fleece us.

  4. Karnail Singh says:

    Dear Yogesh, You are also making the same mistake. The purpose of RTI is not obtaining facts that you some how chanced upon or was the subject matter of a bet or something. This is a tool of empowerment. Rather than asking the ministry you should have done research and contacted the Motor Licencing Officer for obtaining a view on this. But we use this provision just because it can be invoked by paying 10/- and that too online. Please dont mind the comment but if any one tries to do his Ph.D. through RTI………… and then open floodgates of comments……..

    • Karnail, firstly I am not doing this to win some stupid bet or force a government servant to research on my behalf. I am doing this because as a citizen of India and a traveler, who loves to travel to Hills and has heard tales of people being forced to shell out bribes for not having this “unicorn” of license, wants to be on the right side of the law and has no way of knowing otherwise.

      Hill/Hazardous endorsement is only vaguely mentioned on Transport Department’s website and liaising with or even getting a written document from Delhi’s Motor Licensing Officer would have no significance while traveling to Uttarakhand or other hilly states, where cops try to swindle people by quoting such rules. Furthermore, me personally liaising with an official to clear my doubt will not help other travelers, since there will be no official government documents supporting the same, while a proper reply to an RTI (which I had intended to publish) would have been a good enough proof for anyone to walk away from such a fleecing.

      Now if you believe that I was wrong in trying to be on the right side of the law and that this information is easily available to all and sundry, then you are most welcomed to research and post your findings here (supported by facts of course, rather than assumptions). I and other travelers would be most grateful to you, if you can do that. If not, then please suggest a practical way this can be done, without me having to stop running my business and start running behind authorities who don’t even bother to read an RTI Application properly, before replying.

      • Karnail Singh says:

        I will try to find out the exact position of law on this and post. I am sorry again Yogesh but if I do not know if committing murder is an offence or what it will not be a good idea to write to Ministry of Law and Justice under RTI act.

      • If you really don’t know if committing murder is actually an offense and aren’t able to find that information easily, then it would be a far better thing to write an RTI, than commit murder!

        In any case, I will wait for your findings.

  5. YS… this is what exactly going on in every department/office. I, myself experienced it many times. Accountability is totally unheard and seldomly practiced.

    What i suggest you to file an appeal against the reply and file separate RTI applications with one or two Hilly states (i.e. Himachal Pradesh/Uttrakhand etc.) to get their view. Hopefully this will clear the matter (or more murkier).

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