Functioning of a civilised society and that of humanity would dictate that we must help each other out whenever and wherever feasible. We were taught as kids that 'all Indians are my brothers and sisters', and there's no harm helping out a brother or sister in need. However, there is an active law in place that apparently does not want you to. Nitin Nair had to learn this the hard way when he attempted to help a group of people who needed help in commuting. He shared his experience via a Facebook post and it will come as a surprise to many that such a law exists.
Nitin was en route to his office when he came across some people who were looking for a lift since it was raining heavily and public transport was cramped or late. So, Nitin judged that they were working in reputed IT firms considering their ID cards, and decided to give them a lift.
By this time, he was then stopped by a policeman who asked for Nitin's licence. At first, he thought he'd stopped in a no parking area. The policeman started to write a challan and when Nitin asked him for the reason, he said that it was illegal to give a lift to unknown people.
Nitin had to go the police station the next day to retrieve his driving licence, but he was told that he was charged under Section 66/192 and was required to go to the court, accept his mistake, pay a fine and retrieve his licence.
He was fined for Rs 2000 by the court and after some consideration, the judge brought the amount down to Rs 1500. And not to mention, Nitin had to invest a lot of time in the process.
We must also consider that using your personal vehicle for commercial purposes is, in fact, illegal. While we can't confirm the full details of the case, it has so far been claimed by Nitin that he was wrongly charged under the section.
What you need to know
To understand the matter better, we got in touch with an expert of law. Rajan D Gupta, Partner, Chambers of Rajan & Indraneel says that providing commercial transport in a personal vehicle is a punishable offence, and the transport officials and courts must give a purposive and contextual interpretation to such provisions.
He further explained that it has to be clarified that the driver/owner is providing lift to an unknown person for a monetary charge or simply with an intention to help. The rule in question would be attracted only in those situations where the driver/owner of a private vehicle has offered the services of transportation for a consideration. In such a case, it can be said that such a person has misused a private vehicle (which is not authorised for operation for commercial purposes) for providing passenger transport services on commercial basis.
In the case in question, the facts are clear that the vehicle owner’s intention was merely to help some people in a bad weather condition and not to earn money by providing passenger transport services and, hence, Rajan D Gupta believes that the authorities in this particular case have grossly erred in imposing fine on the basis of completely erroneous interpretation of law.
While considering the number of crimes in our metropolitan cities, most car users are sceptical of picking up hitchhikers and the number of people who step up to assist someone genuinely in need of help is actually quite small. Over and above this, if we have laws misinterpreted by the authorities, it would further deter people from simply giving a ride back home to someone in need, instances of people helping strangers will slip further below.