It has been reported that a team from the Punjab Excise and Taxation Department allegedly modified the department’s software system and made changes to the vehicle records from multiple categories.
The team illicitly changed cars into commercial transport cars and these include those with broken, stolen and illegally engineered chassis smuggled on bogus registration books. A majority of these cases pertain from 2017 before the department’s “Centralised Excise Computer Data” was activated. These cases came to light during a “digital audit” under which password-guarded digital footprint records of the team involved are being tracked.
Due to the severity of the situation, the Director of the Lahore motor branch has issued a notification making it a compulsion for people with commercial vehicles to get a Punjab Vehicle Inspection and Certification System (VICS) after new registration of their vehicles. As per estimates, the number of cars impacted by the category change number in thousands, majority of which belong to the LPT series of vehicles.
To carry out the dirty deed, a new fake registration book was created for the vehicle that had been smuggled to another city after its category was changed. In cases from Lahore and Attock, the category of sedans had been changed into a truck, bus and Mazda wagon.
The forgery was meticulous with fake ID cards, certificates and other documents being utilized while making computer entries. These fake registration books were used to cover stolen and smuggled commercial vehicles and at the same time, the original engine and chassis number of these vehicles were removed and replaced by existing vehicle records.
Sources revealed that the excise motor vehicle computer software in Punjab was not centralized prior to 2017. While changing the category of the ownership of the vehicle registered in another city, the excise department officials did not have full access to the original data related to the vehicle.
The people behind this used loopholes to create the fake registration books and with the help of computer records, they would locate older model cars hoping their owners wouldn’t do any transactions with the excise department.
Faisal Yousuf, the general manager at PITB has said that the department’s software was initially updated in 2006, followed by 2011 and last in 2017. During the last update, the data across Punjab was centralized and the option to change categories was assigned to specific people and each has their own assigned password. Hence, those involved in this could be caught by matching the digital record of the passwords.