Police, MVD unfazed by High Court verdict

A day after the High Court ruled against the invocation of the Police Act against motorists for using mobile phone while driving, the police and the Motor Vehicles Department (MVD) remain unfazed by the potential impact of the verdict on the enforcement regime.

A Division Bench had on Wednesday observed that since there was no statutory provision that using mobile phone while driving was dangerous, Section 118 (e) (any person who knowingly does any act which causes danger to the public or failure in public safety) could not be invoked for fining motorists using mobile phone.

The city traffic limits and those of Thripunithura alone account for over 1,000 cases a month for use of mobile phone by motorists while driving. “Hardly ever we invoke the Police Act, and in all these cases the offence is booked under IPC Section 279 (Rash driving or riding on a public way entailing punishment of imprisonment or fine up to Rs. 1,000 or both). Even after Wednesday’s verdict, there is nothing that stops us from going ahead with similar enforcement measures,” said a senior traffic official.

MVD officials also said they remained insulated from the implications of the verdict, which was against the invocation of the Police Act. “We will continue with our enforcement invoking Section 184 (Rash driving) of the Motor Vehicle Act against motorists found using mobile phone,” said Reji P. Varghese, Ernakulam Regional Transport Officer.

Besides, Section 21 of the Central Motor Vehicle Rules empowers the licensing authority to suspend the licence of a motorist found using mobile phone while driving.

High Court lawyer Sivan Madathil called for putting the verdict in perspective. “The police can still press ahead with charges under the Police Act where they can substantiate that the use of mobile phone has led to rash and negligent driving causing accidents. But the invocation of the Act simply for the use of mobile phone where no damage to property and life is involved will stand nullified,” he said.

He also ruled out the possibility of the police intercepting motorists found using mobile phone and handing them over to the MVD on the ground that there is no provision authorising the police such delegation of duty.

Article source: Legal News

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