In Focus

Commissioner orders Traffic Police to 'Stop Checking Vehicles'

By Anushka Singh

In a recent order, following a relentless media campaign initiated by The Draft, Mumbai Police Commissioner Hemant Nagrale has directed the city Traffic Police to refrain from stopping vehicles to 'check documents.' He has asked traffic police personnel to give priority to managing and regulating traffic instead of stopping them to 'check paperwork' that would often lead to congestion on roads.

OBSTRUCTIVE: Traffic Police's checks near Regal Cinema, Sassoon Docks and along the Gateway of India
stretch cause more harm than good
The order issued in July end read, "It has been observed that some traffic officials stop vehicles to check them and their documents. This leads to traffic snarls. Traffic cops are not supposed to check vehicles; they should give preference to streamlining traffic movement." It further stated if cops were found to do the same, the officer in-charge of the traffic division will be held responsible.

Colaba Koliwada-resident Jinal Kesarwani who rides a bike says, "I use my bike regularly to drop my sister, who is studying at a dental college in Panvel, to CST; and, to buy medicines and other supplies. It's a good move and will help citizens a lot, particularly during this trying time."

RELIEVED: Jinal Kesarwani, like most other motorists, is happy with the recent order
According to the order, traffic cops should only take action against violators and are prevented from checking passing vehicles. "Even if there is a joint nakabandi with RTO officials or local police, the traffic cops should stick to actions specified under rules. The cops should not do any other checks," read the order. The commissioner has instructed the traffic police personnel to adopt legal measures against violators of traffic-related rules at nakabandis and apply relevant sections of the Motor Vehicle Act instead.

Jitendra Ramalingam
"During the lockdown, when there's anyway no income and the roads are dug all over leaving little space for parking or movement, it makes little sense for the traffic police to stop motorists and car-owners and check their papers at regular intervals," feels insurance consultant and Third Pasta Lane resident Jitendra Ramalingam.

It may be recalled that earlier in April 2021, when the second COVID-19 wave hit Mumbai, in order to limit vehicular traffic on Mumbai roads and allow the smooth passage of vehicles related to essential services, Mumbai Police Commissioner Hemant Nagrale had implemented a colour code in the city amid COVID-19 restrictions. However, despite the top cop's order, traffic police personnel at Ground Zero continued to stop motorists and vehicles at nakabandis defeating the entire purpose of the exercise (Click here to read The Draft Colaba news report).

Navin Jain
For Pokhraj Matching Centre's Navin Jain the random checks by the police are nothing short of a nuisance and border on harrassment. "Aise time mein, jab lockdown chalu ho, police ko thodi hamdardi dikhani chahiye logon ke saath," he adds.

The present-day order was necessitated by a series of actions - arbitrary and excessive - particularly in view of the ongoing pandemic situation. A case in point being the fracas experienced on 15 June 2021 when Colaba’s residents woke up to find their vehicles parked on the main road, adjoining their lane, ‘clamped’ by the traffic police (Click here to read The Draft Colaba news report).

Crowds of irate residents were forced to gather to plead before the officials in the midst of rain, throwing COVID-19 norms of social distancing to the wind, and pay fines in cash ‘voluntarily’ to free their ‘clamped vehicles’; All of this, for parking in zones which are age-old residential in nature, without a single ‘No Parking’ board anywhere in sight and despite assurances by Colaba Traffic Division In-charge PI Mubarak Shaikh that 'residents won't be fined till the road work gets completed'.

RISKY: Traffic Police personnel ignored social distancing norms as they collected 'fines' during the lockdown
However, throughout the construction period, on several occasions, residents found their vehicles clamped by the traffic police and fined under relevant sections for parking in ‘No Parking Zones’, ‘Parked Dangerously’ and ‘Obstructing Pedestrian Movement.’ If that wasn’t preposterous enough, they were also charged ‘Clamping Charges’ that would have to be paid if the clamps were to be removed and the residents allowed to use their vehicles.

The Draft has been fighting for the cause of the common, particularly during the period of the lockdown, representing their interests before relevant officials. It is in keeping with this campaign in sync with The Public Space Project that administrative action bordering on the excessive and arbitrary is analysed, called out and addressed Via Media and By The Law. Keep The Draft independent by making a contribution to The Public Space Project.

This story is part of The Public Space Project in which 108 readers have contributed till date. You could contribute by making a one-time or recurring (monthly or annual) contribution.



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