Be it inside hospital premises or in front of schools, the sight of people smoking cigarettes is a common one. But going by Rajasthan Police data, nobody smokes in public place in at least four police districts of the state.
The Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act 2003 (COTPA) prohibits smoking in public places, but no smokers seem to care about the law due to the police laxity in taking action against them.
The inaction of the administration is evident in the fact that not a single case of violation of COTPA came up in the police districts of Nagaur, Sikar, Jodhpur east and Jodhpur west during January to July this year.
This is in blatant violation of a crime branch order that every police station in Rajasthan has to make a minimum of 20 challans in a month.
In a letter on March 28, 2014, the office of the additional director general of police, CID (crime) had instructed all the range IGs, commissionerates and district SPs to ensure that all the police stations under them register at least 20 cases of COTPA violations in a month.
It was also mentioned in the order that each district superintendent of police would have to monitor the status of the targets for the police station in every month.
But the data shows that Nagaur, which has 31 police stations, didn’t register a single case against COTPA violators in this seven months time.
If the order had been followed, then the minimum number of cases that the police in Nagaur would have to lodge against COTPA violators is 620 per month. It would have resulted in 4,340 cases in the period of January to July. But believe it or not, the actual number of cases under COTPA in these seven months is zero.
Other police districts, which don’t have a single challan made under COTPA in this period, are Sikar having 21 police stations along with Jodhpur east 12 and Jodhpur west 10.
Other police districts too have made a dismal show with Dholpur that has 15 police stations lodging three challans in these seven months. Sawai Madhopur also didn’t register a single challan till June. But it lodged 24 challans in July.
As a result of this sorry state of affairs, the total number of people challaned for COTPA violations from January to July in Rajasthan is 8,701. If the crime branch order had been followed properly, then the numbers would have been at least 112,420. The current figures are just 7.73 per cent of the total target.
“These figures show that even after an official order, how there is total carelessness at the ground level when it comes to implementing it. At a time when increasing number of people are suffering from illnesses such as cancer as a result of passive smoking, police laxity is resulting in no action being taken against the violators of COTPA. It is indeed a matter of great concern that in spite of having a law, people continue to smoke at public places,” said Satyendra Chaturvedi, executive director, Rajasthan Voluntary Health Association.
When HT contacted police officials, they couldn’t clarify why the number of challans is so less.
“I have been transferred to this department recently. So, I am not in a position to comment,” said S. Sengathir, inspector general of police, CID CB and nodal officer to monitor the challans under COTPA.
Inspector general of police KBS Kapoor, who was earlier IG CID CB, said: “I am no longer in that department and at the moment, I won’t be able to comment on the issue.”