Technology catches up with bigwigs as cameras trap vehicles owned by Cabinet ministers for traffic offences
At least four vehicles belonging to Union Cabinet ministers were caught on cameras for jumping red lights, improper parking, etc
Don’t despair if you are worried over the notices sent by the Delhi Traffic Police for offences such as jumping red light, improper parking, driving above the speed limit. For, you are in august company.
Among the thousands of vehicles slapped with traffic violation notices —or ‘challaned’ in common parlance — in Delhi in recent months are at least four belonging to Union Cabinet ministers: Ravi Shankar Prasad, Harsh Vardhan, Hardeep Singh Puri and Kanchan Gadkari, wife of Nitin Gadkari, who, ironically, was instrumental in the steep hike in traffic fines w.e.f. September 1, 2019.
While the vehicles belonging to Prasad and Puri were challaned under Section 122/177/179 of the Motor Vehicles Act for ‘Improper Parking with Lawful Direction’, those owned by Harsh Vardhan and Gadkari were issued notices under Section 119/177 for ‘Red Light Jumping’.
Such a notice, of course, doesn’t imply that the vehicle was driven by the person in whose name it is registered as it could have been a driver or a family member.
The point is that technology has helped bridge the gap between commoners and VIPs. What a traffic policeman on duty may not have been able to do so far — challan vehicles belonging to ministers — has been accomplished by traffic cameras installed across the city.
There’s an old joke about how the kith and kin of the influential people in Delhi — political leaders, bureaucrats, page-three celebrities or wealthy businessmen, that they respond to any traffic cop daring to flag them for a traffic offence with the one-liner, “Jaanta nahin mera baap kaun hai”?(Don’t you know who my father is?).
Delhi Traffic Police personnel, especially those in the lower ranks, know it for a fact, and admit to turning a blind eye to infractions by influential people on the condition of anonymity.
But the cameras installed at select places, mostly crossroads, have made their job easier. Delhi has 25 cameras for detecting speed limit violations and hundreds more are being installed. Red light violation is monitored by 10 cameras. This number will also increase to 34 shortly.
National Herald has accessed the notices issued to the above-mentioned Cabinet ministers for various traffic violations. Cameras have captured these vehicles or drivers to have violated several traffic norms like jumping red lights or improper parking.
National Herald first obtained the affidavits of these leaders which they had filed with the Election Commission along with their nomination to contest the 2019 General Election. Along with their assets and other details, they also have to declare the number of cars they or their spouses own with their registration numbers. When these vehicles’ registration numbers are fed into the Delhi Traffic Police website, their traffic fine status and notices are displayed with an image of the car.
Several top leaders like Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh don’t own any vehicle, as per their affidavits.
Nitin Gadkari and his wife own six cars, all registered in Maharashtra. The one which has been challaned, a Toyota Innova, seems to be in use in Delhi.