Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Corruption and Traffic Police

Pervasive corruption in our country tarnishes our image. It also discourages investors, who expect fair treatment and transparent dealings. As the country grows and integrates with the world economy, corruption continues to be an impediment to harnessing the best technology and resources,"

Today I was chatting with a few fellow residents of our society. One of them narreted his experience with Pune traffic police and their rude and corrupt behavior. His vehicle has a number plate, which does not belong to Maharashtra. He was carrying original driving license, original PUC and photocopies of all other documents that include NOC. To his surprise, the traffic constable asked him to pay Rs 3000/ as fine since the vehicle is not registered in Maharashtra. After arguing and wasting much of his time, he settled down for Rs 200 and let him go without giving him any receipt.

Very familiar story is not it. We come across many such cases involving traffic police who lurk in the shadow, away from the signals, looking out for their prey. They always look for an opportunity to make quick money. At the same time, I would say as long as we are on the correct side of the law we will have upper hand in negotiating such personals. Before that, we should know the rules and penalties of traffic offences.

With power comes the responsibility. Unfortunately, in our country many people who are in power misuse it. Police department is one such government organization filled with people who are rude and corrupt. In a recent survey it was showed that Police force ranks top in the corruption. I would not say entire force is corrupt but at least 80% of them are on wrong side.
This system of spot fines is giving chance for the corruption and I guess that low levels of automation would be one reason we have this in place - sub-inspector or above can issue challans and levy spot fines. In the ideal, automated world, where RTO and traffic police would have integrated database linking vehicle registration numbers, addresses and driving licenses, constables and above would just note down the violators, and rash drivers would get tickets in email. Constables can't levy spot fines, that is why we see them with pen and paper in hand. They note down violations they spot and send it up to their seniors. it is called FTVR field traffic violation report.

Isn't this the 'real deal' that encourages on-field corruption - of various kind - like fine without a real receipt, amount inconsistent with the violation recorded in the ticket, etc.Spot fines take time (haggling), thus lowering productivity - cops would spot fewer violations per hour. In addition, spot fines encourage corruption. No spot fines mean it would be easier to spot corruption - you see wallet and money, you know what could be happening. Such clarity would discourage spot haggling incidents.

Is it not the time to put the focus solely on enforcement automation by getting rid of the spot fine system? There is no easy direct way to fight corruption. Supply = demand, as simple as it gets. However, structural measures like letting go of spot fines, eliminating cash transactions, introducing annual vehicle registration system so that vehicle owner addresses are kept current (to support automation of enforcement system), legal process to challenge accusations of traffic violation, admission of citizen taken pictures and videos or anonymous content as evidence - there are ideas a round.

We as people should not be satisfied and tolerant with poor and corrupt service delivery and pathetic infrastructure. We need to demand better and ensure our own behaviour enables such demands to be met effectively.

While we dream and wait for the automation to happen, let us be aware of the penalties for the traffic offence and our rights. I gathered some useful informationfor the benefit of all of us.

We should always carry following documents when driving
· Driving license
· Registration Certificate
· Taxation Certificate
· PUC Certificate
· Insurance Certificate
· Fitness Certificate & Permit (in case of transport vehicles)

Moreover, please note any traffic branch officer of and above the rank of Sub-Inspector of Police duly authorised with a receipt book to collect the traffic fine on the spot.

  • The driver and the person seated in the front seat must wear the seat belts while vehicle is in motion (U/S 138 CMVR r/w 177 MVA. It is compulsory to the manufacturers from the year 1995 to provide the seat belts to the vehicles. It is binding on occupants to wear the seat belts whenever vehicle is in motion.

  • As per section 250 (A) MMVR ,r/w 177 M.V.Act no driver while driving or riding a motor vehicle ( including two wheelers ) shall use a mobile phone. Use hands-free or any other accessories of mobile phone while driving is not allowed. If you are alone in the car, you shall switch off your mobile phone while driving any motor vehicle.(Section 250 (A)(2) of M.M.V.R.1989).

  • As per section 177 of Motor Vehicle Act, 1988, using mobile phone while driving fine is Rs.100/-. But, if it causes further inconvenience or is hazardous to the road users, then the driver may be fined for negligence driving, for which fine is Rs.1000/- and compounding fee is Rs.500/-.

  • Towing of a vehicle is allowed Under following conditions:
    · Vehicle abandoned or left unattended
    · Parked in a parking restricted zone
    · Parked in a way causing inconvenience to other road users

  • Authorities can detain a vehicle in the following circumstances:
    · Vehicle being driven by an individual without valid driving license
    · Vehicle being driven without registration
    · Transport vehicle being driven without Permit
    · Vehicle being driven without payment of Tax
    · Improper/suspicious registration. No number plate

  • As per Sec.206 (2) of M.V.Act, 1988, if you will not pay fine, your driving license may be impounded in lieu of temporary license permit, which is issued by the official handling the matter

Instructions of Challaning Officers
(Traffic Wing)

A motor vehicle shall be stopped for challaning only on the commission of a visible traffic offence. A motor vehicle can be stopped for checking of documents only under the specific instructions ofsenior supervisory officers.

While stopping the vehicle due care shall be taken that no hindrance is caused to the smooth flow of traffic. The vehicle shall under no circumstances be stopped on the road intersection/rotary.
The challaning officer shall walk to the point where the vehicle is stopped and shall first greet the driver and then tell him the reasons for his vehicle having been stopped in polite language. The driver (traffic offender) shall be addressed as 'Sir/Madam'. The conversation with offender should be polite and brief.

The demand for the production of the driving licence and other documents shall be made politely. It is the duty of every motor vehicle driver to carry the original driving licence at all times and produce the same on demand by a police officer in uniform. The production of registration certificate, permit, and fitness certificate can be done within 14 days and the production of insurance and pollution under control certificate within 7 days. In case of failure to produce the driving licence, the driver shall be challaned for the same. In case of failure to produce the registration certificate, insurance etc. the driver shall be given a notice (printed at S.No. 1A) to produce the same for inspection (the driving licence shall be seized to ensure compliance to the notice).

The challaning officer shall seize the driving licence of the driver under section 206 of the MV Act to ensure appearance of the offender before the Court. In case of failure of the driver to produce the driving licence the registration certificate shall be seized under section 207 of the MV Act. In case the driver fails to produce both documents the vehicle shall be impounded under section 207. No other documents, personal bond etc shall be seized at the time of challaning.

When a driver is challaned he shall be permitted to record his brief comments before signing the challan receipt. In case the driver poses resistance to the challan the challaning officer shall politely caution him that this shall lead to an enhancement of the penalty under section 179. In case the driver tries to intimidate or influence the challaning officer in any manner the challaning officer shall record the same on the reverse of the original challan form and also inform the Traffic Control Room where an entry shall be made in the log book.

In case the driver uses abusive language and uses or threatens to use physical violence, the Traffic Control Room shall be informed by the challaning officer, which shall in turn call for a reserve officer from the Police Station having jurisdiction for initiating legal action. The nearest traffic interceptor shall also be directed to reach the spot for assistance. The voice recorder & video recorder shall be employed to record evidence of the misbehaviour shown by the traffic offender.

In case any physical violence is actually affected upon the challaning officer a criminal case shall be lodged and the Zonal Traffic Inspector shall personally supervise the same.

In case the driver wants to lodge a complaint against the challaning officer he shall be politely informed that he can lodge a complaint at the toll free traffic helpline number 1073 and ask for his complaint number. He shall also be informed that he can contest against the challan by appearing in the court on the date and time mentioned by the challaning officer on the challan form. The challaning officer shall promptly give his name and belt number to the driver wanting to know the same.

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