The Bombay high court on Thursday expressed displeasure over the home department’s action of withdrawing powers of traffic constables to impound licences of traffic offenders and levy penalties on them on the spot.
“What are these constables meant for then?” the division bench of chief justice Mohit Shah and justice Roshan Dalvi asked Armin Vandrewala after the latter told the court that these powers had been withdrawn.
The court was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by the Bombay Bar Association, seeking strict implementation of traffic rules in the city.
Vandrewala, who has filed an intervention application in the PIL, said that the powers of traffic constables were withdrawn after the son of Umeshchandra Sarangi, additional chief secretary (home), was caught driving in a no-entry lane in December 2011 and a traffic constable on duty had confiscated his licence.
Vandrewala also contended that the manpower of city traffic control department was abysmally low, and a proposal for increasing manpower had been pending since long with the home department. She said that the sanctioned strength of the department was 3,353 but 1,653 positions were vacant.
“When you can’t appoint more constables, why can’t you empower them?” the chief justice asked assistant government pleader GS Saluja. “What is the harm in giving powers to the traffic constable?”
Saluja replied that the withdrawal of powers was a well thought out decision, and it had not been done merely because a constable seized the driving licence of Sarangi’s son.
The judges suggested that the state government increase the minimum fine imposed for routine traffic violations. The court directed the state to submit a chart of regular traffic offences with the fines imposed and the number of offenders caught violating rules on CCTV camera.