Senior citizens, the disabled, and women and children are most affected by traffic offenders, the Bombay High Court said on Wednesday, while hearing a public interest litigation seeking strict action against such offenders.
The Bombay Bar Association (BBA) filed the PIL last week seeking strict enforcement of traffic laws for the safety of pedestrians.
A division bench of acting Chief Justice J N Patel and Justice B R Gavai directed the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and the state government to file a reply in four weeks, on how they plan to tackle traffic violations.
“The police announced they will issue chalans to people who cross the road in a haphazard manner, but they don’t stop a speeding car that runs a red light,” Justice Patel said.
The court asked the BMC and the state if they had any plan to curb the menace.
“The PIL is new, but the problem is old. It is not our job to look into this. But you (BMC and government) don’t do your job, so we have to monitor it,” he added.
Last September, advocate Armin Wandrewala, a BBA member, was nearly run over by a biker near Regal cinema, Colaba, after he failed to stop when the light was red. Wandrewala also argued as part of the PIL on Wednesday.
The BMC and the government supported the PIL, agreeing that this needed to be dealt with urgently.
The BMC is responsible for maintenance of roads, traffic signals, road markings, and speed breakers, among other elements of traffic and road infrastructure.
Government pleader D A Nalavade said: “We are not treating this as an adversarial litigation. Stringent steps need to be taken against the violators”.
BMC counsel, K K Singhvi said the corporation would support the cause. “At places with no zebra crossing, we will arrange for it. Give us four weeks,” Singhvi said.
Senior counsel Rafiq Dada, arguing for the BBA said: “There are free turns at several pedestrian crossings. This is very dangerous, especially for senior citizens and children. No one takes care at these turns and accidents happen”.
The PIL suggests educating drivers and the public,
getting cyclists follow traffic rules, and the installation of closed-circuit cameras wherever possible.
Highlighting other issues such as faded out paint at pedestrian crossings and non-functioning traffic light poles, the PIL said: “Even the traffic police sometimes encourage drivers to run past signal lights (to expedite traffic flow) by urging vehicles to move over pedestrian crossings. This habituates drivers to not respect the traffic signal.”