The police force of Punjab as well as Haryana came under harsh criticism from the high court on Friday for concentrating on providing cops for VIP duties rather than caring for the public and traffic problems.
The court also directed both states' six police commissioners, present in the court, to take up with the home secretaries and chief secretaries concerned the matter of allocating revenue collected from challans for improving the infrastructure on roads, including signages and road markings etc.
When the court asked the police commissioners of Gurgaon, Faridabad, Panchkula, Amritsar, Jalandhar and Ludhiana as to why the police were more concerned about VIPs than the public, the officers had no answer. "For VIP visits, cops are found standing every 10 metres. But what about the general public? Why do you do that? Why can't you remove some cops from VIP duties and put them for traffic duties?" the court asked.
Justice Rajive Bhalla said it was rather surprising that only 42 cops were on traffic duties in Panchkula, 199 in Faridabad and 347 in Gurgaon. The court directed commissioners of police of Panchkula-Ambala Rajbir Deswal, AS Chawla (Faridabad) and joint commissioner of police (traffic), Gurgaon, Bharti Arora to ensure that the number of cops on traffic duties be increased. The court said, "You people don't even show a desire to put police on the roads," making it clear that if no improvement was now seen on the ground, the respective officers would be held responsible.
"Policing is more important that merely issuing challans," the court said. The court also observed that traffic signages and closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras were altogether missing on roads, traffic lights were not synchronised and there were no road marking at many places. The court directed the municipal corporations/councils concerned and other authorities concerned in both states to address the issue.
The court said that after going through the replies of both states on the next date of hearing, it would appoint court commissioners to carry out a physical check of improvement on the roads. The court also directed the municipal corporations of Gurgaon, Faridabad and Panchkula to file replies whether they were ready to construct cycle tracks/carriage ways for slow-moving vehicles so that they did not mingle with fast-moving vehicles.
"Traffic jams are a reality in urban life. You can't do anything. Either ban the cars or regulate them," the court said. The court also said that none of the cops inspected school buses, and asked how autorickshaws were being allowed to ferry a large number of children, which should not be allowed.
The case would now come up for hearing on November 22.