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Since 1st March, 1999
 
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Brace for hefty traffic penalty

- Officer heat on ‘serious’ violations

Traffic police, who have been collecting fines to the tune of crores of rupees each year, have been accused of suffering from a “sau-takiya (Rs 100) attitude”.

The accusation has come from none other than traffic superintendent of police, Patna, Chandrika Prasad. According to him, traffic policemen collect fine mostly in the denomination of Rs 100, despite the offence being serious enough for a bigger penalty.

In a talk with The Telegraph on Tuesday, Prasad said the “Rs 100 attitude” is bad for the department as well as traffic management.

“It has been found that the maximum number of fines collected for traffic norms violation are Rs 100. The same amount is charged for serious offences too. This habit is bringing the police a bad name, something which cannot be tolerated. Hence, the cops in the field have been asked to change their attitude. If it is a serious offence, the officers should slap the maximum fine possible. A motorist cannot escape a serious offence by paying Rs 100,” the officer said.

Prasad has, in fact, ordered the traffic policemen to penalise at least 20 vehicles for norm violations every day.

“There are four deputy superintendents of police, one superintendent of police, one traffic major, about 28 assistant sub-inspectors and around 20 sub-inspectors in the traffic police. They have the power to fine errant motorists for traffic offence. All of them have been given a target to collect fines from at least 20 violators. The policemen have been instructed to impose heavy fines if the offences are serious so that the motorists learn a lesson,” a traffic police source said.

Prasad said bigger fines are imposed for serious offences like driving without a licence, driving under the influence of alcohol and rash and negligent driving (see chart). But motorists escape with Rs 100 fine for such offences too by either pleading to the police officer or by claiming contact with a powerful personality or at times by flashing privi- lege cards.

“If caught violating traffic norms, people either plead or talk about their connections. The officer gets influenced by these excuses and lets the violator go with a small fine even for a serious offence. The most common violation is driving without a license. This cannot go on anymore,” a police officer said.

Prasad clarified the fine will not be imposed at will. “If a person is driving without a helmet, he will be fined Rs 100 only. The police are mulling heavier fines for serious offences which motorists commit at will, thinking they can escape with easy penalty. Some days ago, the traffic police caught a minor driving an autorickshaw without a licence or other papers. He was slapped a fine of Rs 5,300. Now, he will think twice before ignoring the traffic norms,” Prasad said.