To ensure that there is no evasion of taxes by sleeper buses in violation of the Motor Vehicles Act, the Punjab government has proposed to increase the penalty manifold.
For the first penalty, the government has proposed to levy a penalty of Rs 50,000 and for the second challan, the violator will have to pay Rs 1 lakh. It has also been proposed that if even after issuing two challans, the violator does not mend his ways, he will prosecuted and can be entitled to a minimum of six months and maximum of two years imprisonment. For the proposal to attain finality, the government will put the same before cabinet.
The state government told this to the Punjab and Haryana High Court during the hearing of a petition filed by Jalandhar resident Ramesh Sharma, who had claimed that sleeper coach buses cannot be allowed to ply, as there is no provision for them under the Motor Vehicles Act.
Claiming that a tourist bus has to pay only Rs 40 per day to ferry tourists, the petitioner had alleged that these buses evade tax by not ferrying tourists but passengers. He added that charges for an ordinary bus ferrying passengers is over 10 times of what a sleeper coach and tourist bus charges.
On the last date of hearing, the court had directed state transport department authorities to clarify what action could be initiated against the plying of sleeper buses, as the Act did not provide for the registration of such buses. The department had stated that 24 sleeper buses were plying illegally and action has been taken against these.
The Haryana government, on the other hand, apprised the court that it has engaged a private company for installation of CCTV cameras on the entry and exit spots of the state.