The Bombay High Court on Wednesday said traffic officials while on duty have been spotted playing games or talking on the phone. The court was hearing a petition alleging that traffic constables take bribes on duty. A division bench of Justices S C Dharamadhikari and Bharati Dangre was hearing a petition by traffic constable Sunil Toke, alleging rampant corruption in the traffic department. The court subsequently converted the plea into a PIL.
Justice Dharamadhikari observed that the government was paying the bills of traffic officials’ mobile calls then “why are their mobile phones are off for public”. “Go to any corner right up to Dahisar… they (traffic police personnel) are playing games or talking on the mobile phones,” the court said.
The court further said that the phones were obviously not working because if they were then these would be filled with complaints. The additional public prosecutor told the court that the Mumbai Traffic police helpline is active. The court pulled up the traffic officials saying that they have personally seen that traffic cops on duty standing in a corner under the tree or talking to each other or talking on the phone.
Justice Dharamadhikari also pointed out that in the evening, one cannot move their vehicles outside Asiatic Stores near Churchgate as taxis are parked there, even when it is not a taxi parking spot. A little ahead there is Pizza By The Bay, the court said, where there are cars parked outside that restaurant. The court said it was a shame that people have to tell the cops about this and they are not doing the work on their own.
The additional public prosecutor told the court that the helpline numbers are active and they need to be publicised for awareness. The court said it should be displayed at places that see traffic and on FM channels which run 24×7. The court also asked: “Have you seen the Mantralaya area, does any traffic cop occupy that place?”
“Where there is a need a cop is not provided,” the court said. The court said that phone numbers of the joint commissioner of traffic police and a senior officer of the department should be publicised so that people can call and complain about those accepting bribes and resorting to corruption.
The bench adjourned the case for four weeks and asked for a comprehensive affidavit to be filed by the joint commissioner of traffic police. An affidavit was filed by Ashok Dudhe, Deputy Commissioner of Police, Traffic, which said that they have set up a special cell to conduct inquiries into public grievances. It also said that action has been taken on a few of the traffic cops found indulging in corrupt practices.