बंगलूरू Bangalore (SBC): Violating all norms, railway officials are auctioning vehicles abandoned by owners at the parcel office.
Many owners are letting go of their vehicles, unable to pay the steep penalty they are charged for delayed collection of their consignments.
The railway authorities charge a fee of Rs 288 a day for motorcycles parked on the platform.They expect customers to collect their parcels at the station on arrival. But that is not always possible because customers have to wait for a carbon copy of the courier slip from the point of departure.
After Three Days: Railway officials wait for three days and then send the vehicles to the lost parcel office, called LPO by insiders, where it is kept for 15 days. The fee for keeping it for a fortnight comes to Rs.5,184.
If the addressee still doesn’t turn up, the officials write to the Commercial Officer for permission to auction the vehicle. Once that is granted, the vehicle is auctioned. But this procedure is flawed and illegal, according to the police and transport officials.
Although the standard practice is to publish an auction notice in the newspapers, railway officials just announce the event on a slate or a board at the lost parcel office, and in many cases, allegedly buy the vehicles for themselves or people they know.
Santhosh Kumar, who had sent his two-wheeler from Belgaum to Bangalore, had paid Rs 1,350 for the shipment.
He couldn’t get a carbon copy of the dispatch slip and informed the railway officials about the problem. “It took me over a month to get a copy, but by then the charges had gone up to about Rs 10,000. Since I couldn’t afford to pay so much, I abandoned my vehicle,” he told.
Easy Procedure: The railways have made it easy for themselves to sell and buy such vehicles.
A rigorous procedure is followed in the Police Department. In the case of stolen or abandoned vehicles, the police write to a magistrate, who then orders the issue of a gazette notification making public all details of unclaimed vehicles.
The police wait for a month, issue a notice in the newspapers and then put up the vehicles for auction. In the railways, officials have admittedly done away with the formality of issuing a notice in the newspapers.
In the case of police-auctioned vehicles, the buyer gets a new registration certificate, but the railway officials just hand the buyer a slip, saying the vehicle was bought at an auction. That slip has no value, senior policemen told Express.
Since no further paper work is done, the buyer holds no valid documents for the vehicle.
An official, on condition of anonymity, said most railway staff buy the auctioned vehicles most of the time.
Sale Illegal on Many Counts
Narendra L Holker, Joint Commissioner for Transport, said, “This is totally illegal. We don’t give RC books to buyers of such vehicles. The Commercial Officer cannot permit an auction without first obtaining permission from a magistrate.”
B Dayananda, Additional Commissioner of Traffic, said vehicles without registration documents would be impounded. “If the railways are auctioning vehicles, they must provide valid registration documents. Not issuing an auction notice in the newspapers is also wrong.”
A K Agarwal, Divisional Railway Manager, said the railways just puts up an auction notice. “Whoever sees this can come for the auction,” he said.