As part of its endeavour to ease the burden on courts, the law ministry has proposed that state officials be vested with powers of civil courts to deal with petty traffic offences.
Law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad recently wrote to road transport minister Nitin Gadkari about the proposal and sought his cooperation in taking it forward, as it would require changes in the Motor Vehicles Act.
India’s judicial system is overburdened with cases, dragging for years and delaying the delivery of justice. Many of the cases deal with minor issues, but courts still have to spend time on those. The law ministry has identified traffic offences as one of the areas where courts are inundated with “insignificant issues”, such as over jumping of red lights, wrong parking and driving without wearing the seat belt.
In a bid to reduce pending litigation and backlog of cases, the ministry wants petty traffic offences be compounded by officials deputed by state governments so that those don’t go to courts. Although a few state governments have designated powers to their officials to deal with minor traffic offences, difficulty arises when the party contests his culpability or does not wish to compound the offence.
An offence can be compounded only with the consent of all the parties involved. In the event of a dispute, the matter is referred to courts for adjudication. “Therefore, there is a need to develop an alternate mechanism for resolution of such cases,” Prasad wrote.
He suggested that the Motor Vehicles Act be amended to specify that any dispute relating to minor or petty traffic offences shall be resolved by senior officials who will be conferred the power of civil courts. Once the dispute is resolved, no further appeal shall be permitted, he wrote.
As carried in ET on 20/9/2017