To bring relief to cash-strapped state coffers,the Kolkata Police traffic department has decided to put traffic violation cases on a Lok Adalat on July 28 at the Alipore Police Court but chances are that the plan might backfire.
As of now,the pending cases are over 16 lakh with the Lok Adalat aiming to settle 500 cases each in three courts that will be set up on the day.
There are over 16 lakh citations that lie unsettled with the department with fines ranging from Rs 100 to Rs 2,000. If all the cases are dealt with,it will at least bring in Rs 16 crore to the department, said D K Adak,DC (Traffic).
There could be cases where one vehicle has been booked in a number of cases. I think the offenders in such case will be allowed to pay up at a discount, said Transport Secretary B P Gopalika.
Offenders can,however,breathe easy as things will not be a cakewalk for the department.
Senior Lalbazar officials of the traffic department said such Lok Adalats were started by Justice P C Ghosh. He started with eight courts but the traffic department could not bring in enough cases,so the number came down from eight to five,and then to three, said an officer.
He said the main problem they faced was that offenders are from Howrah,Barrackpore and Bidhannagar where it is difficult to coordinate the despatch of summons. The owners address is usually not put in full details during registration. The police stations and the pin codes are not mentioned either. Even in driving licences,the police stations or the post offices are not mentioned. It,thus,becomes difficult to send summons to respective police stations from where they could be sent to offenders, he said.
The officer said that 500 cases per day per court were summoned initially out of which about 250 turned up.
Another official said the problem with prosecuting errant vehicles was that there was no mechanism to easily penalise the offenders. When an offending commercial vehicle goes for a certificate of fitness or a private vehicle seeks renewal of registration,there is no way the same can be denied. This is the flip side of collecting taxes for 15 and 25 years in advance, he said. He also said that by collecting taxes in advance the government was consuming today what is due for tomorrow and revenue of the future would depend upon new registrations only.
Intercepting errant vehicles is also not easy and neither is arresting the vehicle owners. This is not Singapore where all your identification proofs are interlinked. Besides,issuing a warrant is another lengthy process. A magistrate would sign only 30 warrants a day. Assuming that the magistrates works 250 days a year,22,500 warrants will be signed annually. Going by that calculation,16 lakh cases would take a little over 71 years,provided there are no new citations, he said,adding the warrants were bailable.