June 29, 2018
Section 19 of the Motor Vehicle Act empowers the licensing authority to disqualify from holding a driving licence or revoking such licence. Thus, under the legal provision only a licensing authority can suspend or revoke a driving license.
Grounds on which Driving License (DL) can be Suspended
The Licensing Authority can Suspend DL on the grounds that holder of DL:
· Is a habitual criminal or habitual drunkard
· Is a habitual addict to any narcotic drug
· Has used a motor vehicle in the commission of a cognizable offence
· Has by his previous conduct as driver of a motor vehicle shown that his driving is likely to be attended with danger to the public; or
- Has obtained any driving licence or a licence to drive a particular class or description of motor vehicle by fraud or misrepresentation;
- Has committed any such act which is likely to cause nuisance or danger to the public;
- Has failed to submit to, or has not passed, the tests referred to in the proviso to sub-section (3) of section 22;
- Being a person under the age of eighteen years who has been granted a learner’s licence or a driving licence with the consent in writing of the person having the care of the holder of the licence and has ceased to be in such care.
Directions of the Supreme Court Committee on Road Safety- additional grounds for suspension of DL
Apart from the aforementioned grounds, DL can be suspended on the grounds as enumerated by the Supreme Court Committee on Road Safety on August 18, 2015, whereby the Committee issued directions to the effect that the driving license should be suspended for not less than three months for high speed driving, carrying overload in goods carriage, carrying persons in goods carriage, drunken driving and using mobile funds while driving under Section 19 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 read with Rule 21 of the Central Motor Vehicle Rules 1989.
Opportunity of Being Heard Prior to Suspension of DL
Section 19(1) of the Motor Vehicle Act clearly states that the Licensing Authority shall suspend the license on affording an opportunity of being heard to the holder of DL.
The issue of requirement of giving the holder of DL an opportunity of being heard was dealt with by the High Court of Delhi in the case of Ashish Gosain v. Department of Transport. In this recent case, the Petitioner had challenged the suspension order on the ground that the Authority did not afford any opportunity of hearing to the petitioner which is mandatory under Section 19(1) of the Motor Vehicle Act.
The High Court of Delhi observed that the Motor Licensing Officer shall afford a hearing to the driving licence holder, who seeks the same in his reply. The suspension order shall be passed after considering the reply and the submissions made by the licence holder at the time of oral hearing. The suspension order shall be sent to the driving licence holder by Regd. AD Post. The suspension order shall carry a note that the driving licence holder is entitled to an appeal under Section 19(3) of the Motor Vehicle Act before the Appellate Authority within a period of one month from the date of the order.
Additionally the Court stated that the Delhi Police as well as the Transport Department shall follow the due process of law as under:
A valid show cause notice giving the particulars of the violation i.e. date, time and place, reference to relevant provisions violated and the directions of the Supreme Court Committee on the Road Safety.
- An opportunity of hearing in terms of Section 19(1) of the Motor Vehicle Act
- The suspension order containing reasons in terms of Section 19(1) of the Motor Vehicles Act.
- The competent Transport Authority shall endeavour to complete the adjudicatory process preferably within a period of 90 days, failing which suitable period of extension shall be endorsed upon the acknowledgment/seizure memo by the said competent authority.
Procedure for Suspension of Driving License
The High Court of Delhi in Ashish Gosain case gave its assent to implement the following procedure for suspension of license formulated by the Govt. of NCT of Delhi in case of violations of the directions of the Supreme Court Committee:
- In cases of violations specified in the directions of the Supreme Court Committee on the Road Safety, the concerned police officer/enforcement officer shall seize the driving licence for initiating proceedings for suspension of licence under Section 19of the Motor Vehicles Act read with Rule 21 of the Central Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989.
- The acknowledgement of the seizure of the driving licence shall notify the driving licence holder that the driving licence is liable to be suspended for a period of not less than three months in terms of the directions of the Supreme Court Committee on Road Safety.
Acknowledgment format can be accessed here.
- The licence seized by the Enforcement Officer shall be forwarded to the Motor Licensing Officer of the Transport Department who shall thereafter issue a show cause notice to the licence holder to show cause why his licence should not be suspended in terms of the directions of the Supreme Court Committee on the Road Safety.
The revised draft notice format can be accessed here.
Whether DL can be Suspended even after Paying Challan?
While considering Ashish Gosain case, the Petitioner had contended that the suspension of a licence after the compounding of the offence would amount to double jeopardy.
However, the Delhi High Court brushed aside this submission of Petitioner and held that Section 19 can be invoked where the Licensing Authority is satisfied of the existence of conditions stipulated in Section 19(1)(a) to (h). The compounding of an offence under Section 200 of the Motor Vehicles Act does not, in any manner, affect the power of the licensing authority to suspend the licence under Section 19.
That the suspension of a licence under Section 19 is not dependent upon the compounding of the offence by the accused. Thus, the suspension of the licence under Section 19 of the Motor Vehicles Act would not, amount to double jeopardy.
The entire case be accessed here.
 W.P.(C) 2076/2016