The Road Transport Act-2018 stipulates up to six months’ imprisonment or a fine of Tk 25,000 or both for driving a vehicle without an updated fitness certificate. The law also specifies a fine of Tk 10,000 for not having a tax token.
But, it seems the law is not applicable for lawmaker Haji Salim or his son Erfan Salim. Because the SUV police seized on Sunday night, after Erfan allegedly assaulted Navy Lieutenant Wasif Ahmed Khan in Dhanmondi, has had no fitness certificate since September 2010.
Police told reporters that the vehicle has a sticker given to the MPs and that it belonged to lawmaker Haji Salim.
His son and bodyguards were in the vehicle during the incident.
“An MP sticker was pasted on the vehicle and Haji Salim’s protocol officer had been using it,” Ashfaq Rajib Hasan, officer-in-charge (investigation) of Dhanmondi Police Station, said.
However, officials at Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) said a footwear company owns the vehicle and its fitness has not been checked by the authorities in 10 years.
Until this year, it was mandatory to have the fitness of a private vehicle checked by the BRTA every year and receive a fitness clearance. Using a vehicle without fitness clearance is an offence under section 25 of the Road Transport Act.
Every vehicle owner has to pay road tax and advance income tax while renewing the fitness clearance. But BRTA sources said there was no updated tax token for the vehicle, which is an offence under section 26 of the act.
A BRTA official said the owner was supposed to pay Tk 7,500 and an additional 15 percent VAT in road tax each year and Tk 75,000 as advance income tax every year.
“So, the owner dodged more than Tk 5 lakh as he or she had not renewed the papers since 2010,” the official said, wishing not to be named.
Besides, the BRTA in 2012 introduced retro-reflective registration number plates, popularly known as digital number plates, with radio frequency identification (RFID) tags that are mandatory for all vehicles.
But the vehicle in question does not have any of those.
“Although the absence of retro-reflective number plates and a RFID tag is not a distinct offence under the law, we often find that vehicles without such number plates have several other faults. Because, without the number plates, a vehicle can’t be fully compliant,” a BRTA executive magistrate told this correspondent.
According to BRTA, the Land Rover was registered in 2004 and the name of a footwear company was mentioned as its owner.
Contacted, an official of the footwear company said they sold the vehicle in 2006.
“We have all necessary documents in this regard. But, I don’t know why BRTA documents still show our company as the owner of the vehicle. This is not our vehicle anymore,” he told The Daily Star last night.
According to the Motor Vehicle Ordinance-1983, which had been in force until November last year, the seller of a vehicle must inform the BRTA in written form about the matter within 15 days of selling the vehicle. The new owner must do the same within a month.
“It’s likely that they [buyer and seller] had not informed the BRTA about the development. The name of the owner would have been changed if they did,” he added.
This correspondent tried to contact Haji Salim on his two mobile phone numbers mentioned on the Jaitya Sangsand secretariat website. One of the phones appeared to be switched off while the other was not answered. There was no reply to the text messages sent to this number.