Special Correspondent

Madras High Court takes suo motu cognisance of press reports regarding drunken driving

CHENNAI: Taking suo motu cognisance of press reports regarding drunken driving, the Madras High Court has directed the police to strictly follow the provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act especially in dealing with drunken drivers. They should conduct checks on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, the court said.

In his order on a suo motu writ petition, Justice N. Kirubakaran said that from a press report it was understood that the proposal to cancel the licences of drunken drivers on the spot had been caught in red tape and could not be implemented due to MV Act provisions. The judge said several people were dying in road accidents.

Mr. Justice Kirubakaran said there was no discipline by drivers on the roads. “Overspeeding, overtaking, jumping signals, jamming the traffic are common scenes in the city.” These factors contributed to more accidents. Hence, the traffic police have to book the violators effectively.

More accidents in State

Quoting news reports, he said data revealed that the highest rate of accidents [in the country] occurred in Tamil Nadu. Even though police authorities had taken steps to cancel on the spot the licences of those who drove vehicles under the influence of liquor, motor vehicles authorities expressed their inability quoting certain provisions of the legislation. The Judge said that when a stringent provision — Section 185 pertaining to “driving by a drunken person or by a person under the influence of drugs” — was available, the authorities had to invoke it strictly and arrest drunken drivers forthwith. Law enforcing agencies had been vested with enormous powers and they had to meticulously implement the provisions to curtail the evil in the interest of society. Mr. Justice Kirubakaran said the police and the transport authority have to evolve a unified action plan.

The judge directed the Chief Secretary, the Director-General of Police, the Commissioner of Police, Chennai, the Secretary, Transport Department and the State Transport Authority to file their responses within eight weeks. Meanwhile, the authorities should implement the court order.