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Gujarat Police to RTO: Does Toyota Fortuner have enough space for rape?

Police forces often take the help of the Regional Transport Office (RTO) to solve cases and get certifications. But Local Crime Branch (LCB) of the Vadodara district police, Gujarat has made an unusual request from the RTO. It has left the officials “baffled” to say the least.

Photo for representation only

According to The Indian Express, the LCB has requested a certificate for the Toyota Fortuner SUV that was confiscated in an alleged rape case. The LCB has sought the RTO to issue a certificate for the SUV to ascertain if the vehicle would have “enough space” for the alleged crime to take place. That’s not it, the LCB has also asked the RTO to check if there is enough space after pushing the front seat completely to its rearmost position. Also, the LCB has asked for information on the sturdiness of the vehicle’s central locking system.

RTO officials baffled

The officials at the Vadodara RTO were left baffled by the request. They said that no one has ever made such requests. The RTO has received a request to examine the SUV in connection to a rape case. The police have identified the owner of the SUV and accused Bhavesh Patel, a politician who belongs to the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP). He is a former councillor of Padra Municipality, a former director of APMC, and also a ‘notorious bootlegger’.

An official who works with the RTO told Indian Express,

“The RTO issues certificates after inspecting cars involved in hit-and-run and accidents, where we essentially certify the fitness of the vehicle to run on the road, the braking system, registration of vehicles, tracking owners and drivers’ licences that help police in case of accidents. This is definitely the first time that the police have asked for a technical certificate for the central locking system and the leg space that can be created by pushing back the seats — these are usually not required in other criminal cases. The RTO can only give the mathematical report. The department definitely cannot opine on whether the crime has occurred in that much space or not. It is for the police to prove.”

The LCB officials, in the meantime, told Indian Express that they need the certificate to substantiate the case, which is currently based on only the complainant’s statement. The Police Inspector Divansinh Vala, explains that the reason they have written to the RTO is to get the technical certificate and expert opinion on the vehicle to price that such a crime could have occurred in the vehicle as reported by the alleged victim.

Further, the LCB has conducted a “height test” on the woman and the accused to appropriate the findings of the RTO report. He added that the LCB has asked about the central locking so that when the defence raises the questions on why the victim did not open the door and run away, they have an answer to that.

The Toyota Fortuner is a full-size 7-seater SUV and it is the best-selling vehicle in the segment by a big margin.