Somit Sen, TNN | Dec 27, 2013, 02.59 AM IST
MUMBAI: Phorum Ruparel, the complainant in the Pedder Road accident case involving an Aston Martin earlier this month, denied receiving any compensation as she replaced her damaged Audi 4 with the latest model, the Audi 6, worth at least Rs 40 lakh.
The licence plate of the new car sporting a fancy number (MH03 BJ 6666) triggered a controversy with the RTO saying it was “illegal” as it had not been registered with the transport department. It issued a showcause notice on Thursday.
“There was no compensation involved. My car was declared a total loss and the insurance company was ready to replace my old Audi 4 with a new one. But I put in some more money and I upgraded it to the Audi 6,” said Phorum, a 25-year-old student. If she appeared a bit cagey, her mother was categorical. “The new car has been purchased from our own money. Nobody from Reliance approached us,” she said.
Sources said the new Audi 6 is worth at least Rs 40 lakh and the tax would amount to about Rs 4 lakh. For the fancy number, they would have had to pay at least Rs 70,000.
TOI enquiries in the RTO revealed that the number MH03 BJ 6666—as captured in photographs of the Audi 6 published on Thursday—had not yet been allotted to Phorum Ruparel by the Wadala RTO. The car owner had paid the “reserve price” for the special number 6666 and this amount (Rs 70,000) was deposited with the RTO on Monday. “The taxes may be paid through the dealer, but the car is not yet registered on that number,” a senior official said.
“We have paid all taxes and asked the RTO to register the vehicle in the new year (January 4). We are not taking the car out till then, so there should be no problem,” said Phorum. When told that fixing a number plate before registration was deemed illegal, she said she would abide by the rules once the RTO notice arrives. “As of now, we have not received any notice. If required, we will remove the number plate,” she said.
Ruparel has identified Reliance Ports driver Bansilal Joshi, or a person resembling Joshi, as the one at the wheel of the Aston Martin that rammed into her Audi and an Elantra on December 9. Joshi, 55, had approached the police later that day and “confessed” to driving the car. There were reports earlier of witnesses initially telling the police that they had seen a portly young man get out of the car after the accident.
“I don’t wish to pursue the case further because, according to police investigation, Bansilal Joshi was the accused,” she said.
When TOI visited Ruparel’s flat on Thursday afternoon, the new car with the number plate was found parked near the stilt area. Wadala regional transport officer B I Ajri confirmed a notice had been sent to the car owner for “unauthorized use” and the flying squad of the Wadala RTO was being alerted. “If the car owner does not comply, we can refer the matter to the local police station, which can prosecute the person under section 420 of IPC,” another senior officer said.
The number 6666 was the same one in Ruparel’s old car (MH14 DN 6666). “We sought the same VIP number for the new car as it is our preferred number and have paid a premium amount for it,” Ruparel said. An RTO official said the money was received to “reserve” the number and it had not been allotted to the person till Thursday.
Joining her daughter in dismissing talk of compensation, Ruparel’s mother said they belonged to an affluent family and were able to afford an expensive car. “So it should not surprise the media and one cannot jump to wrong conclusions that we are being compensated by Reliance. The new car has been purchased from our own money. Nobody from Reliance approached us,” she said.
(With inputs by Mateen Hafeez)
SOURCE: THE TIMES OF INDIA