Break a traffic rule, you’ll go straight to jail, even if it’s the first time that you’ve committed a traffic offence. This is exactly what is happening in Hyderabad, a city whose traffic rules are getting quite stringent. Recently, a man was sent to jail for riding a motorcycles without having a valid license, and he had to spend no less than 4 days in jail, which also houses other criminals for much more serious crimes.
Here is what the first time traffic offender had to tell TheNewsMinute about his jail time for riding without a valid driving license,
I was terrified. In the nights we could hear some men who are serving life terms screaming and thrashing about in their cells. Another day, one man banged his head into a glass window and started chasing everyone holding a piece of glass. I thought it would be just a fine that I have to pay at the court. But the judge while hearing the cases did not even look at me. He was awarding jail time to everyone who was caught for traffic violations. Some people got two days jail time extra for just not raising their hand. Some second-time offenders were given 20 days jail time.
Another IT professional, who was busted for driving under the influence of alcohol, was also sent to jail for four days. Here’s what he said about his jail time at Cherlapally jail while swearing to never ever drive under the influence of alcohol,
I will never drink and drive again in my life. I don’t want them to know. I have not informed my office either, just took a four days casual leave. But I’m afraid my office people will find out, I heard the traffic police now send letters to human resources saying an employee has been caught for drinking and driving. I don’t want anyone to go through it. The food was horrible, the toilets were disgustingly dirty. It was cold at night and we were all freezing as we were not given enough blankets. Initially, we were told that we could buy coupons that we could use at the jail canteen but the canteen is open for hardly half an hour. I spent Rs 1,000 and bought coupons that remained unused, so I gave them off to others who were still in jail when I was leaving.
Also, jail time being awarded to first time traffic offenders in Hyderabad is limited to a certain court in Kukatpally, whose judge is said to be extremely strict. The judge is said to apply the law by the book, without making any allowances even for first time offenders, who may generally get away with a fine in most other courts.
Chandrashekar, Assistant Commissioner of Police, Cyberabad (traffic), said,
I am seeing this trend of giving jail time to first-time offenders only in cases that go to the Kukatpally court. I’m not seeing this trend at other courts in the city. The judge (at the Kukatpally court) is following the law, he is giving punishments prescribed by the law. Everyone should follow the law.
While the trend of sending first time traffic offenders directly to jail instead of merely fining them is yet to catch up in other courts of Hyderabad, and for that matter, other cities of India, it could well become the norm in future. Traffic levels are rising across India, and so are traffic offences.
Many cities of India see extremely chaotic traffic with most riders and drivers showing blatant disrespect for the law and fellow road users. If other judges at traffic courts around India start following the law to the letter, the already overcrowded Indian jails could be full off traffic offenders.
As for Hyderabad, traffic offenders will now get the message loud and clear. Upon seeing other offenders go to jail even for first time offences, it’s likely that the rest of the rule breaking citizenry will fall in line, and follow road rules religiously.