Traffic constables will soon be empowered to fine offenders, the state government informed the Bombay high court on Thursday. The court was hearing a public interest litigation filed by the Bombay Bar Association for strict implementation of traffic norms and action against errant traffic cops.
Advocate and intervener Armin Wandrewala said that 33% of road deaths in the country occur in Maharashtra, and suggested that fines should be increased and a zone-wise survey of zebra lines and traffic signals be conducted.
Assistant government pleader JS Saluja told a division bench of chief justice Mohit Shah and justice Ranjit More that traffic constables will be empowered in a month to collect fines and impound licences. In December last year, head constables were given the authority to collect fines, which until then was limited to officers of the rank of assistant sub-inspector and above.
An affidavit filed by the state government states that a decision was also taken to reduce the impounding of licences to the bare minimum, after which allegations of harassment and corruption reduced drastically. To support this contention, Saluja submitted a chart showing figures of traffic offences in December 2011 and January.
The state government's stance was buttressed by an affidavit filed by the assistant commissioner of police of traffic (planning division), which states that the current system of impounding licences is time-consuming and cumbersome for vehicle owners.
The court has granted four weeks to the state and the civic body to reply on the status of proposals made in the PIL.