Chandigarh is one of the most actively policed cities in India. Nowhere else in this large country does an average citizen encounter so many policemen patrolling out in the open. The law in India provides for certain rights when citizens come in contact with policemen.
As most Chandigarh citizens encounter police while driving, here are a few of those rights that may protect you from any harassment (after all, an informed citizen is an empowered citizen) –
1. Read this link. It contains important information for how a challaning officer is supposed to conduct themselves. Most importantly are the following points –
- A motor vehicle shall be stopped for challaning only on the commission of a visible traffic offence. A motor vehicle can be stopped for checking of documents only under the specific instructions of senior supervisory officers. It is not only drivers in India that need to be considerate how they act while on the road. If you have violated a traffic offence or anything that has amounted to you being placed in jail, a good idea ma be to look into bail bonds, which will help make this process a lot easier and guide you through the right steps to solve any issues you may have.
- While stopping the vehicle due care shall be taken that no hindrance is caused to the smooth flow of traffic. The vehicle shall under no circumstances be stopped on the road intersection/rotary.
- The challaning officer shall promptly give his name and belt number to the driver wanting to know the same.
Basically, what this means is that when a traffic policeman stops you for an offence, you have certain rights. Here’s what you can do –
Checklist : First make sure that all the following conditions are met and you are absolutely certain that you have not done anything wrong.
- Make sure you are stopped on the side of the road and not hindering traffic. If the cop stops you in the middle of the road, or at an intersection, politely tell them that you are going to move your car out of the way. If the policeman resists or blocks your way, calmly tell the cop that you will call the traffic helpline (1073 or 100) and complain against the cop for needlessly endangering life under section 122, 125 of the Motor Vehicles Act.
- Roll down your window to the point that it doesn’t hinder a conversation. Do not completely roll down your window. Keep your car running, with your door locked. Do not exit the car under any circumstances.
- The Cop must be a uniformed Cop with their name and buckle number clearly shown on their uniform. If the same isn’t visible, politely ask the officer to prove his identity by asking for their name, ID card, and batch number. Do not provide your identification or papers before making sure that the person in front of you is actually a policeman.
- The Cop cannot confiscate your vehicle keys. If they try to do so, tell them that you will file an FIR against them for stealing your property. Similarly, they cannot open your door and force you to exit your car.
- Calmly ask the policeman the reason for you being stopped. The cop has to have proof of a visible traffic offence before they can ask for your licence, RC, etc.
- The cop should have a challan book in hand in order to fine you. If they do not have a challan book they can’t fine you anyway.
- If you have actually broken the law, and after making sure that the person is indeed a policeman, show your D/L, RC/Insurance to the policeman. It is your choice if you want to hand over the documents to the cop or not. The law says “produce” (section 130) and not hand over.
- If the policeman still insists on your offence, agree to the challan being issued.
- Make sure you know the fines for different violations.This link lists all the offences and their related fines in Chandigarh. Also there are two ways of dealing with fines –
- You take the challan slip, sign it, and pay the fine and be done with it.
- If you believe you have not done anything wrong and the policeman cannot prove your offence, do not sign the challan. Write “objected to” instead.
- You do not pay the fine to the cop but appear in court along with the notice and plead your case. If you suspect that the cop is charging more than what law permits you can tell him you will appear in the court for paying fines.
- If you are a female or accompanied by a female and you are being stopped after 6pm you can always ask him to come with a female cop. He will let you go.
- Cops cannot take away your driving license without giving you a valid receipt of the same.
- Cops cannot tow your vehicle as long as you are sitting in it.
- You have the right to call the traffic helpline (1073 or 100) and request assistance in form of a PCR. You can even ask for the contact details of the SP (Traffic), ADCP (Traffic), ACP (Traffic), or DCP (Traffic) in case of any harassment.
Remember, be polite and know your rights. The police are there to help you and others in ensuring that everyone follows the rules. The above points are not intended to get you a free-pass out of a legitimate challan. If you have broken the law, be a responsible citizen and cooperate with the police. However, do not succumb to the harassment like most people.
NOTE: While this piece is geared specifically for Chandigarh, the Motor Vehicle Act is applicable all over India. So, if you follow the above points anywhere in the country, you will be protected from the harassment.