A truck driver, Ashok Jadav, from Odisha’s Sambalpur district was fined Rs. 86,500 for violating multiple traffic rules under the new Motor Vehicles Act. He was stopped on Tuesday (3rd September 2019) for multiple offences, and was finally let off after making a cash payment of Rs. 70,000. It’s said that the truck driver ‘negotiated’ with law enforcement officials at Sambalpur for over 5 hours, and got the original fine of Rs. 86,500 reduced to Rs. 70,000.
The main reason for the massive fine was the severe overloading of the trailer truck, which was carrying a JCB excavator from Talcher in Odisha to Chattisgarh. The excavator belonged to Nagaland-based company BLA Infrastructure Private Limited.
Notably, the truck also had Nagaland plates. It’s not uncommon for transport vehicles to have registration plates from North Eastern States in order to save on registration charges.
Meanwhile, Sambalpur’s regional transport officer Lalit Mohan Behera detailed the various offences against which truck driver Ashok Jadav was booked,
- Unauthorised person to drive (Rs 5,000)
- Driving without a licence (Rs 5,000)
- Overloading with an excess of 18 tonne (Rs 56,000)
- Carrying over dimension projections (Rs 20,000)
- General offence (Rs 500)
While transport officials in Odisha are aggressively targeting traffic law breakers, protests broke out yesterday in Bhubaneshwar with a mob accusing law enforcement agencies of being biased against government and police vehicles. There have been minor arguments and even fist fights breaking out between citizens and police officials seeking to implement the new Motor Vehicles Act, which has increased traffic penalties by up to 20 times for certain offences.
Across India, traffic police and transport officials are stopping and penalizing traffic law breakers heavily. Even police officials have not been spared. A cop in Punjab was fined Rs. 10,000 for talking on the mobile phone while riding his Honda Activa, while another cop in Jharkhand was fined a whopping Rs. 36,500 for multiple traffic offences.
In the coming weeks, the rule of law is likely to reign and traffic offences may go down steeply in places where the new Motor Vehicle Act is being implemented strictly. However, there is a niggling fear that once the initial enthusiasm of enforcing the law strictly wears off, the new Motor Vehicle Act may actually encourage widespread corruption with police officials demanding bigger bribes from rule breakers.
Also, some states of India such as Rajasthan, West Bengal, Punjab and Madhya Pradesh have refused to implement the new Motor Vehicle Act. stating that the fines were too high. Also, Gujarat has asked the transport department to submit a report about the feasibility of implementing the new traffic fines. The new fines came into effect from the 1st of September, 2019.