Law Commission on Traffic Courts
The Metropolitan magistrate generally works as the duty magistrate in Traffic courts. They are responsible for disposing of all traffic/STA challans for vehicles impounded generally from 11:00 am to 05:00 pm or till disposal of challans generally. The surveillance of traffic court is under the supervision of the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate. According to 245th Law Commission Report: Arrears and Backlog: Creating Additional Judicial (Wo)men Power which made significant observations regarding traffic courts in India-
- Cases of traffic and police challans generally do not require much judicial involvement. However, given their volume, they cumulatively consume a lot of time.
- The payment of fines is generally uncontested and the same can be resolved by way of putting some automated systems in court to compound or at the designated counter which would help in freeing court’s valuable time.
However, the Law Commission had also the following observation which involved the creation of SPECIAL TRAFFIC COURTS over and above the existing court infrastructure to help reduce other pendency, which can sit in two shifts. Since not much legal assistance is required therefore recent law graduates up to 3 years of experience can be recruited to assist the courts in such matters. However, in cases where there is a possibility of imprisonment, the regular court should be assigned the matter.
The National Mission for Justice Delivery and Legal Reforms in the 7th meeting of its Advisory Council- it was observed that the there is huge pendency of cases under the present Motor Vehicle Act, Road Transport, and Safety Bill, 2014 was also suggestive of the creation of an online mechanism for speedier disposal of challan cases. The High Courts responded to the report of the Law Commission.
- The High Court of Himachal Pradesh has already taken note for creation of special traffic courts. However, due to topographical conditions, it may not be possible to hold the morning and evening courts and according to them then the finance department is examining the further creation of special traffic courts.
- In Maharashtra, it was decided that the traffic challan matters would be handed over to morning and evening courts already functioning. There are 192-morning courts and 197 evening courts already.
- Gujarat High Court: It was informed that they have already accepted the suggestion of recruiting a fresh graduate to dispose of the challan cases.
- Karnataka High Court: It has informed the State Government about the establishment of the Special Traffic Cases for disposal of the traffic cases already in place.
- Bihar Government: They had accepted the proposal for the establishment of the Special Traffic Courts.
- Tripura government said examining the recommendations of the Law Commission.
- Delhi High Court: The matter regarding the creation of Special Traffic Court was under consideration of the High Court and its report was to be submitted to Lt Governor for approval.
Delhi High Court abolishes 13 traffic courts, with pendency of over 55,000 cases
As per the order of the Delhi High Court, the traffic court stands abolished. These pending traffic rule violation cases would now be taken up as regular matters by regular magisterial courts. The present order will come into effect from 11th September 2017. Traffic challans are generally disposed of by compounding and through courts. The challaning officer has the power to compound traffic challans by depositing the amount notified. For disposal in the Court, you have to appear in the court on the date and place mentioned the challan. You will be trialed by the court depending upon whether you plead guilty or not. If you plead guilty court may impose a penalty on the facts and circumstances of the case. If you do not plead guilty you may be asked by the court to submit the ground/documents on the basis of which you do not plead guilty. After hearing you and the challaning officer, the court will decide the case. Cases of traffic challans at present were concentrated in one court per district, which was causing a delay in disposal of cases. As per news report quotes, the official data available on the court’s website for traffic cases:
Data relating to Traffic Courts from 245th Law Commission Report
New Jurisdiction for Traffic Cases
The traffic challan cases of Central and West districts, which fell under Tis Hazari district court, would be assigned to four and three magistrates respectively. Similarly, in Saket district court, the challan cases of South and South East districts will be distributed to four and seven magistrates respectively. While four magistrates of Patiala House Court will try the challan cases of New Delhi district, six magistrates will do so in Dwarka district court for South West district. Two and three magistrates respectively in Karkardooma district court would take up the work of two abolished traffic courts in East and North East districts.
Time is essential in the delivery of justice and disposal still remains a challenge in India although things are changing. Traffic violations need real attentions of law makers and individuals with the need to strengthen the justice delivery mechanism to deal with violators effectively and compliances respectively, is important. An important development due to be implemented is increases in the penalty to be imposed under the current Motor Vehicle Bill. This will have a further impact on the traffic challan cases arising as this Bill comes into effect. The present decision to abolish the existing traffic courts and allocating the same work to more than one magistrates will see better disposal rate, if inadequacy of court was the reason for the backlog, as published in various news reports. However, the increased pecuniary jurisdiction of the district courts in Delhi and back log of existing cases to needs to be evaluated in the current scenario, to maintain the rhythm of famous saying “justice delayed is justice denied”. The recommendation of the Law Commission to absorb the fresh graduate in traffic courts in disposing of challan matters is important not only for their career but it will also help to better channelize the right energies for much needed for noble profession of law.
- 245th Law Commission Report
- Views of the High Court along with Action Taken/Proposed to Take on the recommendations of the Law Commission (Annexure III in the Seventh Meeting of the Advisory Council to National Mission for Justice Delivery and Legal Reforms)