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Mumbai Traffic Police To Arrest Motorists With Unpaid Traffic Fines: Too Strict?

Stephen Neil

The Mumbai Police are looking at arresting traffic rule violators with unpaid fines. This is an extreme step that is being considered by the Mumbai Police in order to get motorists to follow traffic rules.

Unpaid traffic fines in Mumbai are to the tune of Rs 80 crore and since it is a large amount, the police are trying to enforce it rather strictly. Fines for traffic violation in India have been embroiled in controversies ever since the fines were hiked rather steeply in September 2019.

It was in September this year that the government implemented the new Motor Vehicle Act. According to the new act, the fines for violation of traffic rules were increased by almost ten times.

According to the government, these fines would help in reducing the number of accidents as it would pinch motorists harder if the rules are broken. However, it was met with opposition from motorists and even a few state governments.

Despite the government hiking fines, it looks like it is having difficulty in retrieving the fines from violators. It is an easy task to impose fines on those who have been caught for the offence. However, it is a difficult task for the police to retrieve fines from those motorists whose offence has been caught on camera.

The unpaid fines worth Rs 80 crore has mostly been generated through the e-challan system. The offence is caught through cameras installed at junctions and a text message is sent to the owner of the vehicle and a letter is also sent to the registered address. However, most motorists do not seem to take this too seriously and brush it off.

This has lead to over 27 lakh e-challans being unpaid. Over 9,000 of these e-challans are for fines worth over Rs 5,000. The e-challan system was put in place back in 2016 and some of the pending fines still date back to 2016.

The traffic police are not able to get an adequate response to the letters and emails sent to the violators. Hence, the police are looking at issuing arrest warrants against those with pending fines.

Madhukar pandey, the Joint Commissioner of Police (Mumbai Traffic Department) was quoted as saying, "It is necessary to make the offenders fear the law. Earlier the police seized offenders' licence and vehicle papers and retained these until the penalty was paid."

"Now with e-challans in place, a photo of the violator's vehicle is clicked, and an SMS is sent. Many a time, the number is not registered with the RTO and even the address mentioned is incorrect. We need a system where people realise they can be sent to jail for not paying up." According to Mumbai Mirror, the new drive to issue arrest warrants against those with pending fines could begin as early as 01 December, 2019.

Thoughts On Mumbai Traffic Police Issuing Arrest Warrants Against Motorists With Unpaid Fines

There have been many instances of motorists flouting norms and avoiding the payment of fines on purpose. Some of these fines for a single vehicle crossed the amount of Rs 1 lakh. In such cases, strict action like this makes sense.

However, in most cases, the motorist might not even know that there is a case against his/her vehicle. It is in this case that arrest warrants will do injustice to the people.

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