They have been told to remain in their kiosks during duty hours

A recent order directing traffic constables to remain in their kiosks or chowkis during their duty hours has stirred up a hornet’s nest, with opinion divided over the directive’s efficacy.

The order mandates traffic constables to remain at their assigned position till the completion of their duty hours. The constables have been directed to man traffic junctions and inform their superiors of any violations by motorists by noting down the vehicle registration numbers. They have been warned of action if the kiosks are found unmanned.

Though kiosks at traffic junctions across the city were manned constantly on Tuesday consequent to the order, the directive has caused resentment among a section of constables.

The Association of Concerned and Informed Citizens of Mysore (ACICM) has accused police authorities of violating human rights by issuing such “unrealistic” directives.

Memorandum

M. Lakshman, convener of the association, shot off a memorandum to the Assistant Director-General of Police, Karnataka State Human Rights Commission, Bangalore, in this connection on Tuesday. He said the new order stipulates traffic constables to remain seated in their chowkis or traffic kiosks of less than 1.5-ft diameter from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. without any break. “This is inhuman and a blatant violation of human rights,” Mr. Lakshman said.

“We don’t understand how a policeman can control traffic by sitting inside the chowki continuously without even going out to answer the call of nature... A classic example of officers’ atrocity is the memo issued to two constables posted at K.R. Circle on Monday for taking a 10-minute break to relieve themselves,” the memorandum said.

The ACICM has urged the police authorities to withdraw the directive, failing which it has threatened to file a case in the High Court.

The association said the traffic police should come up with a scientific plan to reduce traffic congestions in the city instead of being content with just levying fine on two-wheeler riders for not wearing helmet.

Basavaraj Malagatti, Deputy Commissioner of Police–I, said the order does not bar constables from taking a break to relieve themselves or to quench their thirst. He said such a directive was necessary as it had been noticed that constables were not present at their kiosks constantly, leading to traffic snarls. “The presence of traffic constables at their place of duty is imperative for effective management of traffic, and it is part of their duty,” he said.

P. Baburaj of People’s Legal Forum said ordering police personnel to sit for hours together in their kiosks amounts to violation of human rights. While it is true that the nature of duty mandates traffic constables to sit in their kiosks, the efficacy will not be lost if a constable abandons the kiosk for sometime and manages traffic from the sides, as witnessed most of the time.

“A via-media approach in adhering to the spirit of the law rather than going by its very letter is important so as to give the constables some reprieve,” he added.

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