Given the power to impose fines for littering in public places,private agencies appointed by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) may even like to jail offenders,too,the Bombay High Court said on Tuesday.
ESS Infra Projects Private Limited and RMC Truck and Equipment Owners,who supply ready mix cements to various infrastructure projects,had contested the right of the corporation-appointed clean-up marshals to levy fines. They had stated that the private parties appointed by the corporation had no statutory powers to recover fines from alleged offenders.
Earlier the court had asked the private agencies not to collect any fines for a week. Central Investigation and Security Services,a private agency deployed by the BMC had filed an intervention application stating that with their powers to collect fines curtailed,there may be a rise in the littering tendencies of citizens.
We are equally concerned that there should be cleaning,but that does not mean people from private firms will collect fines, Justice S A Bobde said. Tomorrow you (clean-up marshals) may put people in jails also. Once you have power to punish people,there is no end to punishment, the court remarked,adding that the job of penalising offenders should be carried out by the BMC and not private agencies.
The BMCs counsel Ashutosh Kumbhakoni told the court that laws were framed by the corporation under which the clean-up marshals were given the power to collect fines. The intervenors lawyer pointed out to the court that a Supreme Court ruling said that statutory bodies should not only maintain cleanliness in the city but can also take preventive measures to ensure it is maintained. The Supreme Court has not authorised you (clean-up marshals) to impose fines. Private persons should not collect fines, Justice Bobde added.
According to the petition,clean-up marshals appointed by Sulabh Security had been allegedly charging a fine of Rs 10,000 on petitioners cement mixer trucks if the cement fell on the roads while carrying it. The petitioners contended that if the driver of the truck refused to pay the fine,the clean-up marshals would detain the vehicle.
The clean-up marshal scheme was introduced by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) in 2006. Under the scheme,different private agencies were given the power to fine people if found littering or spitting in public places. The marshals could impose fines ranging from Rs 20 to Rs 20,000.