The Delhi High Court has directed the traffic police and transport department not to suspend driving licences without giving alleged violators an opportunity to defend their case.
In a significant verdict aimed at preventing harassment of motorist and drivers at the hands of traffic officers, Justice JR Midha directed the traffic police and transport department to “follow due process of law” while prosecuting traffic violators.
The court said the transport department has to give particulars of the violation such as date, time and place, and reference to relevant provision violated while issuing ‘show cause notice’ to alleged traffic violators.
It said the Motor Licensing Officers will give an opportunity to violators to put up their cases. If it is decided that the licence is to be suspended, the order has to contain reason, the court said.
Generally, the traffic police take possession of the driving licence of the violator and forward it to the transport department who take a decision on suspending the licence.
Last year, the traffic violation penalties were made more stringent based on recommendations by a Supreme Court Committee on Road Safety.
Driving licences could be suspended for a minimum three-month period for driving at speed exceeding the specified limit, red light jumping, carrying overload in good carriages, carrying persons in good carriages, driving under the influence of liquor/ drugs and using mobile phone while driving.
The HC order came on a plea by Delhi resident Ashish Gosain who challenged suspension of his driving licence by the transport department without giving any reason.
Advocates Puneet Mittal and Abhijat, appearing for Gosain, contended before the court that the show cause did not contain specifics such as the nature of the violations, nor date and place of the occurrence.
The counsel said though their client sought better particulars and personal hearing, the transport department did none of these and instead suspended the licence for period of six months.
The transport department, represented by counsel Rahul Mehra, admitted that Gosain was not given an opportunity to be heard. As a corrective step, Mehra submitted fresh procedure for traffic police and transport department.
The court directed the authorities to give a fresh hearing to Gosain by giving him details of the alleged violation within two weeks.
The court noted that according to the Road Transport Ministry report of 2014, a total of 4,89,400 road accidents led to 1,39,671 deaths.
“An average of one road accident every minute resulting in one death every four minutes, which is highest in the world,” the judge said adding that strict implementation of traffic rules was necessary to prevent road accidents and fatalities.