‘We are thinking on this matter and will see all that could be done’ says Transport Commissioner J&K
Srinagar, 1 June: Jammu and Kashmir Transport Department officials in response to several RTIs revealed that video recording of driving tests is not mandatory and neither saved; then why record the video in the first place?
RTIs were filed by Kashmir News Bureau towards the Regional Transport Offices (RTO) of several districts of Kashmir, seeking information about licenses issued along with the test drive videos, which are being recorded during every driving test before the issuance of the license.
Even though most of the information sought was provided as required under the RTI Act, but regarding the video recording of the driving tests, which is conducted by the Board of Testing, information was not found available.
In response to one of the RTIs on 24th of March, the office of Assistant Regional Transport Officer (ARTO), Baramulla-HQ-Sopore clearly stated that the video recording of the driving test is not mandatory as per the RULE 15-CMVR 1989.
“As per the provisions of Motor Vehicles Act 1988, we are not mandated to do the video recording of driving tests which is being Conducted by the Board of Testing as per the provisions of RULE 15-CMVR 1989,” the official stated.
Similarly, in response to another RTI, ARTO Kupwara also stated that Video recording of trial tests is not mandatory.
“The Video recording of trial test is not mandatory as well as the video of the applicant in test, is in Gigabytes (GBs) which makes it infeasible to record and save the same,” Official stated, adding that the office is not keeping the video recording of the trial tests.
ARTO Srinagar regarding the recording of videos during the driving tests at the trial ground stated the same reason.
Moreover, Motor Vehicle Amendment Act 2019 does not mention anything regarding the video recording of driving test while it talks about the soft-copies of driving license and other documents, leaving this issue of video recording –which has been taking place across the districts of Kashmir for years— untouched. If not mentioned in the MV Act and neither mandatory then why record the tests in the first place? And if recorded then why can’t the department produce the same?
Regarding it, news agency Kashmir News Bureau contacted Transport Commissioner of Jammu and Kashmir, Pradeep Kumar (KAS), who said that the department is devising some mechanism to bring more transparency in such matters.
“Hopefully, within a month or two, people will see positive changes in the department and more transparency regarding matters related to licenses and other services,” the Transport Commissioner said, adding that he cannot disclose the exact details of these plans in progress.
About videos being recorded during the driving tests, TC J&K Pradeep Kumar said that the matter is being thought upon.
“We are thinking on this matter and will see all that could be done regarding it,” Kumar said, adding that even if the videos are made available, sooner or later; but still only the person—who has been recorded during the driving test—will be able to access the video.
“As per the provisions of MV Act, the video can be made available only for the person who has taken the driving test and not for anyone else,” Kumar emphasized.
Pradeep Kumar said that the purpose of recording the trail tests on video is to ensure that concerned authorities can check the test before providing the driving license to the applicant.
He said that there are a number of things that have to be considered before issuing the license and officials can’t keep an eye on all of them at once.
“If the concerned license issuing authority is not present at the site, for his/her satisfaction the video is recorded so that the official can confirm the status of the test and check if it went according to the rules kept in place and then issue the license,” Kumar said.
He further said, “Only the person who has failed the test, as per MV Act, is eligible to seek the basis on which he was denied the license. Anyone cannot seek information from others when it comes to these matters.”
Most of the information that is permissible to share with the general public is already available on the official website, he added.
Pertinently, as per the data—sought by Kashmir News Bureau under RTI Act 2005—provided by Srinagar Regional Transport Office (RTO), from the period of 01-06-2019 to 03-03-2021, 5950 fresh driving licenses including 845 additional endorsements were approved and during the year 2020, 8357 four wheelers were registered by Regional Transport Officer, Kashmir.
From the office of the ARTO- Baramulla, HQ-Sopore, 5153 driving licenses have been issued, with effect from, 01-06-2019 to 03-03-2020 and 5980 licenses have been issued from the office of ARTO-Kupwara from 01-06-2019 to 03-03-2021.
Important to mention that RTIs filed by Kashmir News Bureau, seeking information regarding different matters from Transport Offices of other districts of Kashmir region have not been replied to.