In a bid to bring a semblance of order to the capital's chaotic roads, police on Monday prosecuted over 4,500 people and collected a record Rs 1.7 million in fines as it armed itself with stiff new laws against traffic violators.
Delhi police said at least 1,333 driving licences were punched and 220 vehicles were impounded as part of the drive. "It's a significant achievement as we could manage to punish a large number of violators on the first day. We will try to keep the momentum going," Joint Commissioner of Police Qamar Ahmed said.
The traffic police cracked the whip on errant drivers committing offences like using mobile phones while driving, speeding, rash driving as well as sporting tinted glasses on windows of four-wheelers, pressure horns and having unauthorised top lights and bonnet lights.
Traffic cops, who could be seen on duty at all leading traffic signals and crossroads under scorching sun, caught every vehicle that jumped the red signal and every car with tinted glasses.
Following the Delhi High Court's directions, the minimum fine for traffic offences has been increased from Rs.100 to Rs.600 by adding Rs.500 as compounding fee.
Drivers were fined an additional sum of Rs.500 for every offence and their licence card was punched. According to the new rules, if a licence is punched five times, it stands cancelled.
According to directions, drivers of private city buses as well as Delhi Transport Corporations (DTC) buses will be required to wear uniforms and badges with their names on them. Barring the driver and a conductor, no other bus staff would be allowed.
"We are specially looking out for offending bus drivers. By afternoon, at least 60 drivers have been prosecuted for not wearing uniforms and for overspeeding," a traffic official told IANS.
Two-wheeler riders were fined for not wearing helmets.
"Since morning, we have removed black films from at least 650 cars at various crossings," a traffic official told IANS.
The capital's drivers, not used to traffic discipline, alleged they were being harassed.
"How can a middle class man pay a penalty of Rs.600?" asked Sonu Kumar who was fined for halting his car beyond the stop line at a traffic signal.
A two-wheeler owner, who was fined for being without a helmet, said: "As the fine has been increased to a minimum of Rs.600, I think people would now prefer to buy helmets that cost only Rs.200 to escape the penalty."
However, pedestrians were happy. "Now motorists will think twice before jumping a red signal or rolling out a vehicle with tinted glasses," said Vinita Singh.
Some Delhiites believe that the traffic laws should have been amended and applied in the strictest sense a long time ago.
"We would like to thank the High Court order to tame the indisciplined motorists in the capital. But what the Court has overlooked is that there are several impediments to ensuring a smooth flow of traffic in Delhi, said Aarti Chaddha, a collegiate.
Meanwhile, the new orders of the court were a fillip to the Delhi Traffic Police.
"It would help us prosecute strictly to stop anyone driving while attending a phone call on cellular phone or while smoking or being drunk. Now they will think twice before violating any rule," said Rajesh Sharma, a traffic constable.
According to Joint Commissioner of Police Qamar Ahmed: "The new rules will bring down the crime rate in the city too as people would themselves peel off the black films."
At least 2,000 traffic cops were deployed at 80 locations to carry out the court's orders.