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Traffic violators in Mumbai to be taken to court over unpaid fines | Mumbai News

MUMBAI: With unpaid fines touching Rs 739 crore, Mumbai traffic police have decided to drag heavy defaulters to court.
Senior officials said initially motorists who have run up over Rs 20,000 in fines will be issued notices and given 15 days to pay up the dues. Those failing to do so will be chargesheeted before courts.
Since the system started in 2016, traffic police have issued 3 crore e-challans that should have brought in Rs 1,350 crore in fines. However, only Rs 611 crore has been collected so far. Traffic violations are rampant in Mumbai with an average of 15,450 challans issued daily this year.
Outstanding fines soared in 2022 with the implementation of the Motor Vehicles Amendment Act, which saw massive hikes in fines.
Auto deduct fine from traffic violators’ bank a/cs: Activists
Traffic offenders who haven’t paid up fines upwards of Rs 20,000 despite receiving a notice from the police will now be chargesheeted before court. So far, around one thousand vehicles have been issued challans for more than Rs 50,000 each. A senior police official said, “Chargesheeting will involve the court summoning the offender and, as a last resort, issuing a warrant if he or she fails to turn up. Motorists will, however, have a right to contest the challan issued to them and offer their side of the story before the court.” “We have requested the transport commissioner’s office to collect pending fines from owners of vehicles with multiple challans when they approach RTOs for transfer of ownership of vehicles or fitness certificates, etc,” joint commissioner of police (traffic) Pravin Padwal said.
Traffic police personnel will be positioned at the four RTOs in the city to ensure owners pay up the dues. In 2022, the state government adopted the Motor Vehicles Amendment Act, 2019, which introduced hefty fines as a deterrent to violations. The fine amount, accordingly, doubled from Rs 196 crore in 2021 to Rs 365 crore in 2022 and Rs 282 crore till August this year. However, the number of challans issued in the same period has reduced (see box), indicating that huge fines are an effective deterrent. “Fines for several violations were hiked. Among these are Rs 5,000 for driving without a licence (previous fine was Rs 500), Rs 5,000 for racing (Rs 2,000 earlier) and Rs 10,000 for driving without permit (previous fine was Rs 5,000),” said a traffic police official. Police realised that merely issuing e-challans did not serve the purpose as motorists were not paying up.
“Overseas, there is a better linkage between the registration number of the vehicle and the owner. Tickets (a form of challans) are formally sent over email,” said Ranjit Gadgil, programme director of the non-profit Parisar. Here, the RTO’s database has not been updated with phone numbers of each and every vehicle owner. This means that challans sent over a text message by the traffic department may not necessarily reach the owner. A senior traffic police official said at present they drag defaulters to the Lok Adalat in a bid to recover fines. But transport activists say expecting people to pay up on their own is not going to work. Transport activists have reiterated the importance of strict enforcement to deter violations, road-related crashes and fatalities.
“A mechanism has to be developed to automatically deduct fine amounts from the bank accounts or digital wallets of defaulters. When motorists understand that the consequences of violating laws are severe, they will think twice before breaking them,” said A V Shenoy of the Mumbai Vikas Samiti. Non-payment of challans is not limited to Mumbai but is a pan-India issue. “Our peers working in Bengaluru and New Delhi have told us that the pending fines there are equally staggering,” says Gadgil. “For a long time, Parisar has been advocating stepping up on-ground enforcement in addition to camera-based enforcement to bring the compliance rate to a tolerable limit,” he added.

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