Thursday, 1 December 2011

Affidavit General !

Written by Anil Singh

If you have paid attention to the working of CM BC Khanduri in his first and second innings; then you would have already noted that the CM has a particular way of working.

And that particular way is -- Affidavits (or 'Shapath Patras').

The CM, who is always on a mission to prove himself "My Shirt Brightest of All" is projecting affidavits as panacea (Ram Ban Aushadhi) to all that is wrong in Governance , system and society.

First he made his ministers make affidavits to minimize their entourage; then he wanted them to make affidavits on Corruption, Transfers etc.

As is often said, "Public emulates its King"; CM's reliance on affidavits is rubbing on many; if not on the General public but surely on the Executive (Officers and staff in Government), who are always keen o enter into King's good books.

Recent example in this context are the changes made by Uttarakhand Road Transport Department with respect to Two wheeler drivers.

Taking inspiration from the CM's methods; the main crux of the changes made is an affidavit. An Affidavit signed by a two wheeler buyer in Uttarakhand at the time of buying the vehicle.

Under the new changes, a two wheeler buyer (along with father and mother of guardians as well)will have to sign an Affidavit, at the two wheeler agency, which lists the following pledges:

1) I will not indulge in over speeding.

2) I will not overload

3) I will not modify the vehicle

4) I will not use mobile phone while driving

5) I will park the vehicle at spots meant for parking.

The Road Transport Commissioner hopes that after signing the said affidavit; roads will be safer and the number of two wheeler accidents will decrease.

Do you believe in the same?

Does merely signing the above affidavit make roads safe and decrease accidents?

Any aware person knows that affidavits are not the instruments to exercise effective control on any activity. A stringent Law is the tool to do that.

MLAs, MPs, ministers, Government officers and staff make affidavits at the time of their appointments, on issues like code of conduct, corruption and Transparency. But do they follow their oaths?

A doctor takes a pledge to serve humanity selflessly; Do all doctors practice their pledge?

The point is -- Affidavits are just Affidavits; and their effectiveness just Ends There. They may have a great force in an Utopian world (Sat Yug); but surely not in today's world.

So whosoever wants others to believe that affidavits will change the world; is simply diverting attention from Real Solutions.

Lets examine the Uttarakhand RTO's new affidavit for instance. Lets scrutinize the oaths listed in it, one by one:

1) Why does the Affidavit, want the parents or the guardian of the two wheeler buyer to sign the affidavit? There may be two reasons for that. First the RTO is assuming that Minors or those without any valid license are driving two wheelers; and second, the RTO wants the parents to take responsibility of the driving of their adult, college going children.

Whatever reason applies, the provision in itself is a sham (sham means something that is not what it purports to be); as none of the above reasons, can be enforceable in court of law. For to simple inferences: A) A minor cannot drive a two wheeler under law and B)Once adult, a person is responsible for his/her actions and behavior, so why bring guardians in the picture.

2) The points 2 to 5 of the affidavit mean nothing in absence of strict implementation (I wonder why RTO didn't include a sixth point "i will not drive under influence"). In the absence of strict laws, the points are just another reminder of things everyone knows about road safety and ideal road behavior.

So as you have seen, the Affidavit is simply an Affidavit and its force ends just there.

Interestingly, RTO do not try to exercise real solutions to the increasing problem of two wheeler driver safety. It do not try to impose the existing rules of two wheeler road safety, like

A) Putting a prohibition on minors (below 18 years) and those not having a valid license, drive two wheelers (except bicycle).

B) Enforcing "helmet wearing" strictly. And going a step further, making helmet mandatory for pillion rider as well.

But the fact that RTO doesn't want to put to use real solutions; made it take the Affidavit route (Amidst public criticism on rising two wheeler accidents, it wanted to divert the public attention; hence it rolled out an Affidavit).

Till then ,as the Affidavit says, if you care for your and your minor child's two wheeler road safety; then you try to follow road safety rules on your own. As no matter how beautifully you sign the affidavit; the affidavit will not have teeth and the onus of following any road road safely rules rests solely on you.

As at the end of the day:

"The Beauty of these Affidavits is that Everyone knows they don't work; But still Everyone praises them"

An attribute sharp people in Power, always make use of.

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