The Delhi High Court has said that “incidents of… road rage in the city are now on the rise”, and asked the Central and Delhi governments to file their responses on how to tackle the rise of a “jungle raj”.
The court of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice R S Endlaw on Wednesday took suo motu cognizance of Monday’s incident where an apparent traffic issue led to a policeman attacking a woman scooter-rider with a brick in the presence of her three children. The bench has taken up the issue as a PIL on the “larger matter” of the rising cases of road rage, “managing the movement of pedestrians and vehicles”, and discipline among police personnel.
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The court also noted that there were “inconsistencies in the statements given by the woman on TV channels” and asked police whether they had collected the copies of the recordings by such channels. “Citizens should be aware they can’t keep changing their statements and become TV stars,” the court commented during the hearing.
“Everyone on the road appears to be on a short fuse. No solution, at least to our knowledge, has been proposed till now and, in fact, we are not even aware whether the issue is being addressed by the police or the other authorities concerned at all… Now, we have a case where perhaps the traffic policeman also has displayed such rage, rather than control others,” the court noted in its order on Wednesday.
The bench said citizens also appear to be “wanting” in performance of their duties. “Such a situation, if unchecked, will snowball into a ‘jungle raj’ with only the physically fittest amongst us surviving,” the court said. It also observed that however disgraceful the behavior on the part of the citizen was, the same ought not to have “elicited a retaliation” from the traffic policeman concerned.
It has now asked the government and police to “place on record the measures if any taken to address the malady” by August 5. During the brief hearing, the court also stated that it would appoint an amicus curiae to give suggestions for possible improvement, but did not issue any directions in this regard.
The court had issued notice to the lawyers of the government and police to be present. But due to the lawyers’ strike, additional solicitor general Sanjay Jain appeared before the court and submitted an action-taken report on the incident on behalf of police.
The court commented that there was a “growing menace of road rage and citizens were not aware of their duties”, noting that reports of the incident had indicated that the complainant had jumped a red light and then argued with the policeman, who then allegedly asked for a bribe.