DASS SPEAK:Fake Driving Licence how to know?

By Chittranjan Dass, Editor, SAARC Journal of Transport


In a recent judgement, the Supreme Court has held that a driving licence which was fake or fictitious shall continue to be so even though the same had subsequently been renewed by a proper authority.

Insurance company, while processing motor accident claim, had come across the case where the driving licence of the involved driver was dubious. It was renewed by the authority which was competent to do so under law. But the original issue of the licence was not done similarly by a duly designated authority. The High Court which heard this matter earlier decided that a driving licence once renewed by a competent authority it was a valid document; its previous status whatever, notwithstanding.

Without going into the judgements of the High Court or the Apex Court on the matter, there still remains an aspect to be looked into rather carefully. That is, should all claims be rejected invariably in case the driver's licence was fake originally though it was renewed subsequently by proper authority? Or a different view could be taken on the ground that the driver was, in no way, a contributory factor to the causing of the accident hence claim had to be admitted and paid. But for the present this debate could be left here alone.

The Supreme Court's order has raised an issue which is more grave, particularly for the owners of goods or passenger commercial vehicles. The issue is how to chose a driver? Insurance company could be motivated and resourceful enough to go searching for the records of original licence. Any ordinary vehicle owner who may be on the look out for a driver would have neither methods nor means to varify the authenticity of the driving licence which the prospective employee may produce.
A driving licence is valid throughout India. It can be renewed by any STA/RTA in any State where the driver may presently be ordinarily residing. In case the issuing authority may be in the vicinity of the employer, he may possibly be able to ascertain the veracity of the licence before employing the driver. But what to do in case the licence was originally issued by the authority situated for away. Say somebody in Sholapur (Maharashtra) wishing to employ a driver whose licence was originally issued by an authority in Himachal Pradesh. At present there is no mechanism by which the employer could ascertain the authenticity of the original licence.

In light of the Supreme Court judgement, therefore, the Union Ministry of Road Transport owes it to the owners of vehicles to urgently come forward with an arrangement which is fast and without hassles by which the goods vehicle owners could escape employing a driver with a fake licence.