The unbridled greed of a handful of officers is stealing Delhi Police's thunder. The law enforcement agency's persistent efforts against gangs of motor vehicle thieves which, until a few months ago, used to hold the Capital to ransom have sadly given the corrupt few a late-night licence to harass two-wheeler riders at will.
One of the first initiatives to have been put in place by Delhi Police commissioner BK Gupta almost immediately after he took charge in mid-November last year, good old-fashioned picket-checking seemed to be a blessing in disguise - until a few weeks ago.
“For at least a fortnight, we have been receiving complaints from two-wheeler owners who claim that constables and head constables stationed to conduct late-night checking, especially at areas bordering adjacent sub-cities, harass them for money even after they have established the ownership of their vehicles by producing valid docum-ents,” said a highly-placed source who did not wish to be named.
As per law, only an officer of the rank of assistant sub-inspector (ASI), that too of the traffic police, is empowered to fine a commuter for non-compoundable offences.
In spite of being directed to establish the ownership of a vehicle simply by matching the names on a person's driving licence and the registration certificate (RC) of the said vehicle, many bikers commuting to sub-cities such as Noida and Ghaziabad, located beyond the Capital's eastern fringe, in addition to Dwarka, Faridabad and Najafgarh bordering its southern part have been harassed - for not carrying insurance papers or, if all other means of intimidation fail, a no-pollution certificate.
According to Delhi Police records, as many as 11,137 stolen vehicles were seized from the beginning of the year till the middle of June. A majority, as much as 80% of them to be precise, were intercepted during picket checking at random points on major junctions.
“Picket checking has also proved beneficial as far as apprehending inter-state criminals and intercepting gangs smuggling narcotics and alcohol, to or from the Capital, are concerned. Its simply sad to know that a basic policing practice that is proving to be so beneficial in nipping crime in the bud is being perverted by a handful of entrepreneurial men who simply, and shamelessly, wear the khaki,” the officer said.
“An officer of the local police cannot compound a traffic violation. If they do detect the violation of a traffic rule — the violator, in no circumstances, is bound to pay the officer as the former can only issue a fine to be paid in a court of law,” said Satyendra Garg, joint commissioner of police (traffic).