LAHORE: The Punjab caretaker cabinet approved a huge increase in the fee of learners driving licence from Rs60 to Rs1,000.

Presided over by caretaker chief minister Mohsin Naqvi, the cabinet approved an increase in driving licence fees effective from Jan 1.

“Starting from Jan 1, the learner fee will surge from Rs60 to Rs1,000, alongside an increase in LTV, HTV and PSV licence fees. Residents of the US, Canada, and other countries can obtain a licence online by paying $100,” the government said.

The cabinet endorsed a transparent lottery system for allocating government land to landless farmers in Cholistan. A substantial 344,000 acres of land will be allocated to landless farmers at subsidised rates, it said.

Court questions govt’s authority to increase fee from Rs60 to Rs1,000; Bagh-i-Jinnah placed under walled cities authority

The cabinet approved the transfer policy for MBBS and BDS students in government medical and dental colleges, allowing transfers only from high-grade merit to low-grade institutions. The management of prison hospitals would be entrusted to health department and a healthcare system for prisoners received approval.

Funds were also approved to double the number of nursing students and a management committee for the Institute of Public Health, Lahore, had been established. The cabinet renewed the agreement between the specialised healthcare and medical education department and the Recep Tayyip Erdogan Health Trust for the operation of regional blood centres in Multan and Bahawalpur.

Decisions were made to elevate Children’s Hospital, Faisalabad, to the status of a medical institute under the Punjab Medical and Health Institutions Act 2003.

The cabinet also endorsed policy frameworks for the selection of vice chancellors at the University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences in Lahore and Bahawalpur, along with the appointment of prosecutors from the public prosecution department to the FIA on a deputation basis.

Under the Punjab Special Premises (Preservation) Ordinance 1985, Bagh-i-Jinnah was granted special status, and its administrative affairs were entrusted to the Punjab Walled Cities and Heritage Areas Authority. The historic Umar Mahal of Chiniot was also placed under the management of the authority.

The cabinet approved the revision of shooting licences and fees under Punjab Wildlife Rules 1974 and gave the green light to establishing a Pothohar campus of the University of Punjab in Gujar Khan.

An agreement with the National Highways and Motorway Police for the exchange of motor vehicle registration information was endorsed.

Meanwhile, the Lahore High Court on Tuesday questioned the authority of the caretaker government of Punjab to increase the fee for a learners driving licence.

“What will happen if a legal challenge is made to the caretaker government’s decision to increase licence fee,” Justice Ali Zia Bajwa directed a lawyer for the government to assist the court on the point.

The judge was hearing a petition by Advocate Rana Sikander challenging the police action to include the names of underage drivers in the criminal record.

During the hearing, Chief Traffic Officer (CTO) Mustansir Feroze said the caretaker cabinet, under the supervision of the chief minister, increased the licence fee.

He tried to justify the cabinet’s decision saying the fee had not been increased for a long time.

The judge questioned whether the caretaker chief minister had the authority to increase the fee and asked the law officer to apprise about the government’s policy.

The court was informed that cases had also been lodged against two police officers for complaints of harassing citizens in the name of the crackdown on underage driving.

The judge remarked that no one should be forgiven, whether they are drivers or police officers.

The CTO further told the court that more than 1.4 million learner permits and 73,000 regular driving licences had been issued since the launch of crackdown. He said FIRs had been registered against over 7,000 underage drivers while 16,000 against those driving without a valid licence.

The judge directed the CTO to consider release of the underage drivers on personal surety by the SHO concerned instead of presenting them before the magistrates.

The judge also instructed the police to assist at the next hearing regarding the criminal records of the cases against the underage drivers.

In a video posted on the X (formerly twitter) account of Lahore traffic police, CTO Mustansir Feroze urged the citizens to get their learners driving licences issued at the earliest as the increased fee would be implemented from Jan 1, 2024.

Published in Dawn, December 6th, 2023

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