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IN THE fortnight after India demonetised 500 and 1,000 rupee currency notes, spot fines collected by UT traffic police came down by nearly half as did the number of challans issued for traffic violations, while fines received at the Sector 43 district court, where the notes were being accepted until November 16, registered a sharp hike.
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From November 1 to 8, the district courts collected Rs 1,06,400 as fine. This increased four times in the subsequent week (November 9 to 16) to Rs 3,95,100. Spot fines by the traffic challan wing of the police in the first week of November totalled Rs 7,88,850 (November 1 to 8). This came down to Rs 4,12,050 in the second week (November 9 to 16) and was further reduced to Rs 3,62,800 (November 17 to 23).
In the post-demonetisation weeks, the number of challans issued by the traffic police has also decreased — from 2,691 in November 1 to 8, to 1,412 from November 9 to 16 after the currency notes were scrapped. The challans further dropped to 1,180 from November 17 to 23.
SSP Traffic Dr Eish Singhal denied there was any link between the fall in the challans, spot fines and demonetisation. Speaking to Chandigarh Newsline, he said, “The traffic challans were not issued as there were many VIPs visiting the city last week. The President of India, President of Israel, Prime Minister and BJP president were in the city last week. We have a strength of 1,000-1,500 police personnel in the traffic wing. So, during these visits, our focus was not on challaning people rather on managing traffic.
We do not want to increase the number of challans issued. We want minimum inconvenience to public and regulating traffic at peak hours. We stopped traffic for minimum time, otherwise there will be jams.”
Lawyers attribute the increase in collection at the court over the last two weeks to months-old violators showing up to collect their documents with Rs 500 or Rs 1,000 notes, as these were still being accepted by courts. Traffic offenders, who do not wish to pay spot fines, must deposit their licences with the traffic police and collect them from the court after a month, but many do not collect them for months.
“The challans reach the courts complex a month after being issued by the traffic police. If a litigant does not come to collect the challan, they preserve it. As soon as litigants came to know that district courts was a place where old notes were being accepted, they came to release their challans,” said advocate Rajesh Verma. The minimum spot fine is Rs 300 and the maximum Rs 6,000. In court, fines are usually lower.