Traffic police booths have once again come under the scanner of the Bombay high court after a petition filed by a Khar-based businessman alleged that the revenue generated from advertisements put up on these booths neither reach the state government nor the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).
On Wednesday, a division bench of justice Ranjana Desai and justice RV More heard a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Indur Chhugani.
In his PIL, Chhugani alleged that the traffic police, in connivance with civic authorities, have allowed a private advertisement agency to illegally put up advertisements on traffic booths. “How are police officers allowed to pocket the money?” asked justice Desai.
The PIL alleged that neither the state government nor any authorised body had appointed the private agency. The monthly revenue generated from the advertisement remains unaccounted for, as it never reaches the state government or BMC coffers. Instead, a few corrupt police officers and the advertisement company pocket the money.
The PIL contends that several senior cops are involved in the racket, which is worth Rs10 crore per month.
Further, the PIL states that the electricity required to light up these booths is pilfered from traffic signals and that policemen never stand inside them as the bright advertisement lights make them uncomfortably hot.
The PIL wants the Crime Investigation Department to conduct an inquiry and also wants strict action to be taken against the guilty. It also wants that the advertisement company be directed to deposit all its earnings with the court.
The division bench asked public prosecutor Pandurang Pol to reply to the petition within two weeks and also asked BMC’s counsel, Suresh Pakale, to find out whether the police department is paying any rent or compensation to the BMC for displaying advertisements on traffic booths.
Pakale said that as far as he knew, the BMC does not receive any money from the advertisements. He, however, sought some time to elicit information from the BMC, which would verify this.