No warning that “travelling in a drunken state is an offence”

A wave of arrests targeting inebriated Metro commuters could end up making Delhi’s roads more dangerous, anti-drunk driving campaigners are warning.

In 2013, the Delhi Police prosecuted 5,587 people for travelling in the Metro in an inebriated state, up almost 10-fold from 591 in 2012. The individuals prosecuted, the authorities admit, include several people who were not behaving violently or inappropriately.

Harman Singh Sidhu, president of city-based campaign group Arrive Safe, told The Hindu on Monday: “On the one hand you say that you cannot drive when you are drunk, and on the other you are not letting them travel in public transport. If a person is creating a chaos, it is a different thing, but simply issuing a challan on the basis of staggering or walking improperly in the metro is arguable.”

Prince Singhal of the Community Against Drunk Driving said: “People should use public transport when they are drunk. Driving in such a state can lead to an accident.”

“I have taken up the issue of challans with the Delhi Metro and they assured me that they will co-operate with my cause. I am, in fact, going to meet the Delhi Chief Minister on this issue. I will request him to ensure that people are able to travel in public transport even when they are in a drunken state. I will also talk to him about making public transport better so that accidents due to drunk driving can be brought down,” added Mr. Singhal.

Interestingly, many of those prosecuted for travelling drunk on the Metro may have been unaware that they were committing a crime as there are no easily readable signages or announcements in the train or at the station premises warning commuters that “travelling in the train in a drunken state is an offence”.

According to point number 59 of the Delhi Metro Railway (Operation and Maintenance) Act, 2002, “if any person, in any carriage or upon any part of the metro railway, is in a state of intoxication, he shall be punishable with fine which may extend to Rs.500 and shall also be liable to forfeiture of the fare, which he may have paid or any pass or ticket, which he may have obtained or purchased, or be removed from such carriage or part by any metro railway official authorised by the metro railway administration in this behalf.”

Police officers told The Hindu that the drive is being carried out at the request of the Delhi Metro officials.

Asked how they identify people in a drunken state, a police officer said: “If a person is found staggering or behaving abnormally or smells of alcohol, we hand him over to the DMRC staff. They then impose a fine of Rs.250 on each violator. They, however, do not use an alcometer for verification.”

Six police teams have been constituted to keep a check on drunk people after 7 p.m. everyday on vulnerable routes. The most vulnerable route is from Inderlok to Dilshad Garden on the red line, added the officer.

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