Despite standing orders against it, traffic police resort to random vehicle checks

Traffic police stop a car at R T Nagar in Bengaluru. File photo

Traffic police stop a car at R T Nagar in Bengaluru. File photo | Photo Credit: SUDHAKARA JAIN

The suspension of ASI Mahesh D C and HC Gangadharappa of Halasuru Gate traffic station for accepting ₹2,500 from a car owner for an “official favour” on June 10 is testimony to tacit corruption among the traffic police. The incident also violates the standing orders of the heads of the traffic department, and the order given in September last year by the present Home Minister Araga Jnanendra.

This was the same stand taken by then Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai on the floor of the House in March last year. The Traffic Police are not supposed to ask for vehicle documents after they randomly stop vehicles in the middle of the road, Mr Bommai had said in reply to MLC H. M. Ramesh Gowda’s question during the ‘Question Hour’ in the Legislative Council. If a motorist has not violated any traffic law, the Traffic Police cannot stop you just to check your documents, he had said.

Even though Joint Commissioner of Police B R Ravikanthe Gowda reiterated that the traffic police on duty should not resort to random vehicle checks and stick to their basic duty of monitoring the traffic flow, the traffic police continue to stand at every nook and corner of the road to conduct random vehicle checks. This is the most lucrative work for the police as they carry back a pocketful of their share at the end of the day, said a police official.

Corporation signal, Halasuru Gate junction, Jayanagara metro station, Infantry road and Safina plaza junctions, Anil Kumble junction, Kasturba road, Lavelle road junction, Vittal Mallya road, Cubbon road, Brigade and Trinity junctions are some of the points where traffic police are regularly seen with their team, flagging down vehicles for checking.

On Monday, the state police head, Mr Praveen Sood tweeted “No vehicle SHALL BE STOPPED only for checking documents unless it has committed a traffic violation visible to the naked eye. Only exception is drunken driving”. However the vehicle checks are likely to continue citing visible violations.

Contactless enforcement measures ignored

This is the grey area where the police can take advantage of the situation and make money by threatening motorists with hefty court fines, seizure of vehicles and pending dues. While very few concerned motorists like Santosh Kumar will raise the issue of corruption and file a complaint, many end up paying money to get away from the harassment and embarrassment.

The traffic department has from time to time issued directions to the police not to resort to random checks and even brought in several measures of contactless enforcement. This include enforcement cameras, body-worn cameras and even handheld cameras which have been introduced among the policemen at junctions to record violations and report to the TMC to generate notices to the offenders. However, the traffic police continue with the checks on the pretext of special drives and visible violations such as helmetless riding, not wearing a seat belt, using mobile phone while driving and tampering of number plates.

A senior police officials justified the checks saying though it may look harassment to the motorists, conducting regular checks may reduce accidents and bring traffic discipline among the motorists.

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Printable version | Jun 28, 2022 1:35:23 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/despite-standing-orders-against-it-traffic-police-resort-to-random-vehicle-checks/article65575318.ece