|Auto finance mafia|
Auto-finance-mafia own or control more than 90% of autos plying in Delhi. The entire Transport Department acts like a puppet in the hands of these mafias. Such brazenness flows from the patronage they are given by Mr. Sandeep Dikshit, a Member of Parliament and the son of the Chief Minister of Delhi.
The auto-finance-mafia adversely affect the livelihood of approximately one lakh auto drivers and cause suffering to millions of passengers. The vehicle which officially costs Rs.1,3,000 has crossed the market price of Rs.6,00,000 due to the tactics adopted by the auto-finance-mafia.
During a hearing on 09.08.11 on a PIL filed by NyayaBhoomi in the Supreme Court, even the judge was left wondering how such a small vehicle can cost so much. The entire PIL/SLP and the additional documents filed thereafter can be downloaded from the following two links:-
Political Patronage to Auto Finance Mafia
The Supreme Court has declared trading in permits as illegal and benami ownership of vehicles is already illegal under the law. In spite of this, in a letter dated 11.02.10 written to Transport Commissioner, Mr. Sandeep Dikshit made a strong recommendation in favour of benami ownership at the behest of auto-finance-mafia. That recommendation was later adopted verbatim by the Transport Department, giving legal status to tens of thousands of benami autos which are under the control of the auto-finance-mafia.
The entire sequence of events demonstrates the strength of the nexus between the executive, the politicians and the auto-finance-mafia who collusively work in a criminal manner.
In a “note for the cabinet” prepared by Transport Department in 2003, the officials have admitted that the auto-finance-mafia alone are responsible for turning 90% of the autorickshaws benami. They have acquired direct and indirect control over almost all autos in Delhi through the mechanism of financing of vehicles and transfer of Permits. A large percentage of such autos are acquired in a benami manner.
The letter dated 11.02.10 written by Mr. Sandeep Dikshit to the Transport Commissioner is an acknowledgement that auto-finance-mafia are holding benami permits. This is the reason Mr. Dikshit is so stressful on the need for transfer of permits without the presence of the permit-holders because the “registered permit-holders” are “not there”. Many of them do not even exist.
The fact of benami permits further stands established from the fact that in hundreds of legal cases instituted by or against auto-finance-mafia in the districts courts of Delhi, it has been clearly spelt out that the loan is advanced to one person whereas the vehicle is registered in another person’s name.
Benami permits also have black money angle. A huge number of benami permits is held by the auto-finance-mafia in the names of their poorly-paid employees living in slums, or in the names of their relatives. Scores of persons living on the periphery of poverty line hold multiple permits “valued” at crores of rupees each. A volunteer of NyayaBhoomi himself is the paper-owner of 8 permits together with vehicles at the behest of an auto-financer but actually earns his living by renting an auto.
Modus Operandi of Auto Finance Mafia
Making a vehicle benami is central to the designs of auto-finance-mafia who trade in permits. They adopt a number of methods to do so.
It is noteworthy that every auto-financier in Delhi is operating illegally by virtue of his failure to be duly registered as required under Punjab Registration of Money-Lender’s Act, 1938.
Smart card based permit scheme
Transport Department had launched the scheme to replace paper-based permits with smart-card based permits w.e.f. 21.10.09. The entire smart-card-based permit scheme is a well-planned act of deception bordering on conspiracy on the part of the Transport Department, and has caused immense loss to the public and the auto drivers without any benefit accruing to anyone.
It is apparent that the smart-card-permit scheme has served no purpose more than 18 months after it was started (as of August 2011).
The issue of Auto Finance Mafia has many other dimensions which have been comprehensively explained in the writ petition filed in Delhi High Court and the SLP filed in the Supreme Court of India. Links to both these documents together with additional documents are provided below for download.
Transport Department admits and is aware that the high cost of autos is due to the illegal trading in permits and benami ownerships. However, instead of taking steps to check the malaise, it continues to act in sync with the very people who are responsible for widespread illegality within its department. This is nothing but amounts to a Mafia Syndicate in which some powerful politicians, Transport Department officials, and auto-finance-mafia are the partners in crime.
Whilst direct victims of the Mafia Syndicate are the auto drivers, the millions of passengers who travel in autos every day and face poor quality service are no less sufferers.