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February 20, 2021

If FASTag Scanner Fails to Read RFID, then Vehicle User is Exempted from Toll Fee

by CA Jessica Nagaonkar in Compliance Law

If FASTag Scanner Fails to Read RFID, then Vehicle User is Exempted from Toll Fee

FASTag is a device that employs Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology for making toll payments directly from the prepaid or savings account linked to it. It is affixed on the windscreen of the vehicle and enables the commuter to drive through toll plazas without stopping for cash transactions. Mandatory FASTag is aimed at decongesting toll plazas and saving time and fuel. The government has launched a mobile app through which highway users can buy FASTags which are delivered to the user’s doorsteps within 24 hours.

FASTag will be mandatory for four-wheelers or M&N category of vehicles that were sold before 1 December, 2017. For this, the Central Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989 were amended. Since 1 December 2017, FASTag has been made mandatory for all registrations of new four wheeled vehicles and is being supplied by the manufacturers or dealers. It has been further mandated that a valid FASTag is mandatory while getting a new third-party insurance. This provision shall be applicable from 1 April 2021.

Is there is any escape if the toll scanner fails to read the RFID?

  • While the union government has made FASTag mandatory, there is no escape to road travellers from long queues at toll booths.
  • Add to this the poor infrastructure available at these toll plazas, which makes it difficult to get the radio-frequency identification (RFID) tag scanned properly.
  • Several commuters have also complained of their tags being blocked or inadequate funds reflecting on the screens although they had money in their accounts or wallets.
  • There are instances of vehicles having to cough up twice the toll amount at the counters, only to realise that money has also been deducted from their account.
  • However, if there is sufficient balance in the valid FASTag account, then the vehicle user is exempted from paying any fee, says a notification published in the gazette in May 2018.
  • If RFID is not getting scanned and there is sufficient balance in the FASTag account at any toll plaza, then it is failure of the toll contractor to collect toll.
  • Basically, this is infrastructure failure at the toll plaza.
  • In this case, the affected vehicle user should be not be charged any money as per the GR notification.

What does the notification which was published on 7 May 2018 state?

  • The said notification states that, if a vehicle user with a valid, functional FASTag or any such device with sufficient balance in the linked account crossing a fee plaza installed with electronic toll collection infrastructure, is not able to pay user fee through FASTag or any such device owing to malfunctioning of electronic toll collection infrastructure, the vehicle user shall be permitted to pass the fee plaza without payment of any user fee.
  • An appropriate zero transaction receipt shall be issued mandatorily for all such transactions.
  • The electronic toll collection infrastructure mentioned in the notification is a set of equipment comprising hardware and software that facilitates electronic collection of user fees. 

Has FASTag provided any ease to commuters?

  • Instead of easing traffic flow, with the mandatory FASTag, there are jams on almost all major toll plazas.
  • Many vehicle users face a common technical issue when the RFID scanners at the toll plaza fail to read the FASTag.
  • In some cases, money also gets deducted from the user’s account. However, unless the user pays the money the boom barrier remains closed. 
  • Commuters at several toll plazas on national highways are facing a long wait (stretching up to nearly half-an-hour at some toll plazas), due to glitches in the system after the government mandated all toll lanes as FASTag lanes. 

Last week, the ministry of road transport & highways has decided that all lanes in the fee plazas on national highways shall be declared as “FASTag lane of the fee plaza” with effect from midnight of 15th and 16 February 2021, and vehicles without a valid FASTag would be charged double the toll. The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), is likely to direct toll plaza operators to allow vehicles without paying toll if there were long queues and the threshold that will trigger a free passage of vehicles through toll gates is being worked out. As per NH Fee Rules 2008, any vehicle not fitted with FASTag or vehicle without valid, functional FASTag entering into the FASTag lane of the fee plaza shall pay a fee equivalent to two times of the fee applicable to that category.

Even as the number of FASTag users has surged in the last two days, the National Highway Authority of India has started distributing the RFID tag that enables electronic payment of toll charges free at its toll plazas and will do so till March 1. Since 16th February, toll collection through FASTag have been increasing. In comparison to the last week, toll collection has shown a jump of 9%, 16% and 14% on 16th, 17th and 18 February 2021, respectively, it says.

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