No e-challans here, just 'pay and settle the matter', say Thane traffic police
mid-day's sting operation finds cops at the Thane traffic department seeking 'direct payment' to release vehicles which they don't register, as they don't issue these challans
To curb corruption and bring more transparency to the Traffic department, the Mumbai, Thane and other commissionerates introduced e-challans. For these, payments have to be made online or at traffic department offices, not to traffic cops. But Thane cops have bypassed e-challans and adopted a pay-the-police-on-the-spot approach. If violators cannot pay, they have to go to the traffic division and bribe contractors, or 'settle the matter' to claim their vehicle. In a sting operation, mid-day unearthed these wrongdoings in the Thane traffic department.
On August 14, Dilip Bhanushali, a businessman from Mulund, had gone for some work with his son to the Thane court. When Bhanushali came out, he found traffic cops asking contractual towing van boys to pick up his bike. He and his son requested the boys not to tow the bike. "One of the towing boys told me to pay R200 and take the bike back. When I asked if he would give a receipt, he replied, of course not," said Bhanushali.
Bhanushali pays the towing van boy to get his bike released
'Pay and end the matter'
A traffic cop intervened and asked Bhanushali whether he had a licence. The cop then asked whether he had insurance and the RC book. Bhanushali said that he didn't have the RC book then, but would produce it in an hour. "The cop told me to pay R200 and end the matter. I asked him why, to tow my vehicle — for not having an RC book or for parking in a no parking zone? He got angry and took my bike away," said Bhanushali. Each violation has a different fine, and Bhanushali intended to ask him what the charge was for. Bhanushali then approached mid-day and this reporter conducted a sting at Thane Nagar traffic police chowky the same evening. The police said Bhanushali had to pay R300 as towing fine and charges. On taking Bhanushali's licence, he was told there was a fine of R1,000 pending in Mumbai. Bhanushali told the police that the challan was under process of cancellation.
Mutual co-operation wanted
A policeman at the chowky then said, "Just pay R100 to the towing boy and take the bike." When mid-day asked him how he could release the bike if a challan had been issued, he said, "I am co-operating with you, so co-operate with us." mid-day found the police and the towing van boys also 'co-operate.' As a towing boy said, "We tow the vehicles and bring them here. But if the police haven't made an entry through the e-challan device, they can release the vehicles without issuing receipts. For this we get R100 and the police get R100." He pocketed the R100 that Bhanushali gave him, and released his bike.
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