Volunteers would not be allowed to stop vehicles or direct traffic when the road-rationing plan comes into force, Delhi Police chief BS Bassi said on Sunday, stressing rule of law and vigilantism were incompatible.
Bassi said he had read reports of private volunteers and civil defence personnel being deployed to ensure the success of the 15-day plan under which odd-numbered private cars will run on odd days and those with registration numbers ending in an even number of even dates.
The radical measure to clear Delhi’s toxic air begins on the New Year’s Day.
“Delhi Police to enforce odd even. Requesting govt: volunteers to assist DP & act as told. All Note: Rule of Law and Vigilantism are incompatible,” Bassi tweeted in the evening.
Caution and oversight was required “because an enthusiastic lay man may go overboard breaching others’ freedom. An avoidable option”, another tweet read.
The Delhi government had said Aam Aadmi Party and civil defene volunteers would be fielded to help the traffic police during the road-rationing period. “There will be volunteers who will stop the violators,” transport minister Gopal Rai had said.
Action would be taken against volunteers acting on their own, Bassi warned.
“At the onset, let me clarify that Delhi Police will render all legal support to the state government. We believe that clean air, environment and water are fundamental and inalienable rights of every one,” Bassi said. “But private persons do not have the right to independently stop anybody. Any such action by private volunteers shall be treated as contrary to law and action will be taken.”
If private individuals and those from civil defence wished to volunteer, they should report to their traffic police district, he said. They would request the state government to direct such people to the Delhi Police. They would be extensively briefed and deployed by the traffic police, Bassi said.
The Kejriwal government and the Delhi Police often find themselves at odds. Unlike other states, the Delhi Police reports to the Centre, which the AAP says should change. Police should be under the control of the state government, it says.