Around 41 per cent of the traffic fines imposed by Kolkata police on errant motorists have remained unpaid for at least six years.
According to police records, in the last six years, Kolkata police have had an unrealised fine amount of Rs 194 crore — which would indicate that merely imposing steep fines may not be enough to discipline drivers.
A minibus that toppled over at the Dorina crossing in Esplanade on Sunday, leaving 27 passengers injured, has 203 pending traffic cases against it. The fines for the offences have remained unpaid for 12 years.
From 2016 till 2021, the police have imposed traffic fines totalling around Rs 476 crore, of which around Rs 282 crore have been paid.
The unpaid amount till the end of 2021 was around Rs 194 crore.
The amount of pending fines will be much more if the period before 2016 is taken into consideration.
To realise old fines, the police have been asking motorists to clear their dues first whenever they approach cops to lodge a general diary for a lost driving licence, missing vehicle permit or for any other reason.
“This way the person is forced to clear the old dues,” an officer said.
However, a section of the police feels the compliance level would be much higher if motorists are asked to clear their dues annually while renewing their vehicle documents.
A proposal sent from the office of the deputy commissioner, traffic, to the state transport secretary on October 30, 2021 calls for introduction of a system that will make it mandatory for anyone who approaches a regional transport office to renew or obtain a tax token, certificate of fitness, permit, driving licence or a pollution certificate, or for a change or transfer of ownership, to get a no-objection certificate from Kolkata police first.
The police will grant the NOC only after all pending fines are cleared.
Sources in Lalbazar said the police were yet to get any response on the matter.
Multiple texts to transport secretary Rajesh Sinha seeking a comment went unanswered. Contacted over the phone, he refused to comment.
A text message and a call to state transport minister Firhad Hakim on Friday went unanswered, too.
The fine imposed by traffic cops can be paid on the spot or later at traffic guards. If the offender opts to pay the fine at a traffic guard, cops on the roads seize a vehicle document. The owner has to get the paper released by paying the fine.
Officers said the biggest problem was to realise the fine amount against citation cases, for which vehicle owners get e-challans or paper challans.
“In such cases, as there is no seizure of documents, the car owners are under no compulsion to pay the fine,” said the officer.
There is a rule that if a fine is not paid within a stipulated period, the cases are forwarded to court. In reality, only a small number of cases are transferred to court.
For example, the minibus that met with the accident at the Dorina crossing in Esplanade in the central business district of Kolkata has 203 pending cases since 2009. Only six have been transferred to court so far.