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Police Not Authorised To Suspend Driving Licence Of Any Citizen: Calcutta High Court

Sravika Reddy Kohir ,
  22 July 2022       Share Bookmark

Court :
Calcutta High Court
Brief :

Citation :
W.P.A 14318 of 2022

CASE TITLE
Smt. Priyasha Bhattacharyya Vs The State Of West Bengal And Others

DATE OF JUDGEMENT
July 19, 2022.

PARTIES
Petitioners – Smt. Priyasha Bhattacharyya
Respondents – The State of West Bengal and others

BENCH
Justice. Moushumi Bhattacharya

SUBJECT

  • The plea was filed for quashing the orders passed by the Assistant Commissioner of Police, Traffic Department, Kolkata, with regard to the suspension of the driving licence for a period of 90 days for the act of over speeding.
  • The notice passed by the State government was also challenged with respect to infirmity with that of the parent Act.

ISSUES RAISED

  • Whether the traffic police fall under the ambit of licensing authority under section 2(20) of The Motor Vehicle Act, 1988?
  • Whether the suspension of the driving licence by the traffic police is valid under the section 19 of the Motor Vehicle Act, 1988?

IMPORTANT PROVISIONS

  • SECTION 2(20) OF THE MOTOR VEHICLES ACT, 1988:It defines the term licensing authority as the one who has the capacity to issue licences under chapters II and chapter III of the Act, that deal with licensing of motor vehicles and licensing of conductors of stage carriages respectively.
  • SECTION 3 OF THE MOTOR VEHICLES ACT, 1988:It provides to debar a person from driving any motor vehicle in public places unless and until he holds a driving licence issued for driving the vehicle.
  • SECTION 19 OF THE MOTOR VEHICLES ACT, 1988:This section provides with the power of the licensing authority to disqualify any person from holding a driving license or revoking the same if the reasons are satisfied as mentioned under the section after giving that person an opportunity of being heard.
  • SECTION 206 OF THE MOTOR VEHICLE ACT, 1988:It refers to limitations or restrictions over the power of the police officer in suspending or revoking the driving licence, under this the police officer has only the power to impound the document.
  • SECTION 206(4) OF THE MOTOR VEHICLE ACT, 1988:This section provides the police officer with the power to seize the driving licence if he believes that the driver of the motor vehicle has committed any offence under the sections 183, 184 and 206 of the Act and forward the same for disqualification by the licensing authority under section 19.

OVERVIEW

  • The petitioner was travelling back to her residence from the mall and in the meanwhile she broke the speed limit wherein the speed limit was 30km/hr and she was at 62.1km/hr. for the same the Assistant Commissioner of Police Traffic Department has issued orders as to suspension of the driving licence for 90 days since the interception.
  • Thus, the same has been questioned by the petitioner that such an action of the police office is ultra vires to section 206 of the Motor Vehicle Act, 1988.

ARGUMENTS ADVANCED BY THE PETITIONER

  • The counsel on behalf of the petitioner argued that the whether the action of the police in suspending the Driving Licence and the notice issued by the state government are legal or not.
  • The counsel further held that the police does not have such an authority to suspend a driving licence the counsel referred to the judgement given by the Delhi High Court that is reported in AIR 2016 DELHI 162.
  • The counsel argued that the provisions of the Motor Vehicle Act, 1988 provide that only the licensing authorities mentioned under the section 2(20) can disqualify or revoke licence with respect to the conditions mentioned under Section 19 of the Act.
  • The counsel further with regard to the notice issued by the state argued that the notice though mentions the police to act under the section 19 of the Act in circumstances where it is necessary the same had not been reflected in the West Bengal Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989.
  • The counsel further held that Parent Act i.e., The Motor Vehicle Act 1988 gives the power only to the licensing authority to disqualify the driving licence and limits the power of the police officer to just seize the driving licence. Thus, held that the state government cannot override the Parent Act.

ARGUMENTS ADVANCED BY THE RESPONDENTS

  • The counsel for the respondent argued that the petitioner violated the rule of over speeding as mentioned in the section 112 of the Motor Vehicle Act, 1988. And the same is a condition violates road safety under the section 19 of the Act and hence the action could be taken in disqualifying the driving licence.
  • The respondent further argued that the petitioner admitted the same and it shall be no ground for excuse as the same would have been a risk for the other travellers on the road.
  • Thus, the respondents claimed that it was under the section 19 the police has approached the petitioner as mentioned under the notice issued by the state government the suspension was legal.

JUDGEMENT ANALYSIS

  • The court on analysing both the counsels held that the provisions of the Motor Vehicle Act 1988, under the section 19 provide that the licensing authority has the ultimate power as to the disqualification or the revocation of the Driving Licence as per the conditions laid under the section 19 of the Act.
  • The court further held that the power of the police as per the section and sub-sections of 206 of the Motor Vehicle Act, 1988 is limited to impounding the document and as to just seize the same and hand over to the licensing authority for the further process of disqualification or revocation of the driving licence.
  • Thus, the court directed to quash the order issued by the police officer against the petitioner suspending the driving licence.

CONCLUSION

  • Thus, the power to revoke or disqualify the driving licence rests with the licensing authority itself and police cannot act ultra vires as such in suspending the same.

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