Thursday, May 12, 2016

Delhi HC: Motorists who violate norms will lose licence but temporarily retain right to drive

Motorists who are found overspeeding or driving drunk in the capital will no longer lose their driving privileges immediately, with the Delhi High Court Thursday issuing directions to create a “proper procedure” for suspension of licences.

While acknowledging the need to prosecute traffic violators, the bench of Justice J R Midha has directed that a notice must be issued to the traffic violator when the licence is seized, which would allow the motorist to continue to drive for upto 90 days, till the time the transport department completed the procedure to suspend the licence.

Following orders from the Supreme Court, the Delhi traffic police and transport department had started seizing licences of drivers found breaking traffic rules. The transport department would then initiate the procedure to suspend the licence of the violator for three months, as directed by the Supreme court. However, the high court found that on-the-spot seizure of licences, without giving notice or allowing motorists to present their case, violated principles of natural justice as the violator ended up without a licence for much longer than three months, and was not given adequate notice of the process.

The court was responding to a set of pleas filed by advocates Abhijat and Satyam Thareja on behalf of four motorists whose licences had been seized. The petitioners had said they were issued notices after their licences had already been impounded, as a “post facto exercise”. The court had earlier directed Delhi government’s standing counsel Rahul Mehra and the petitioners’ lawyers for suggestions. It had also formulated the acknowledgment forms and notices that will now be issued by traffic police and transport department. According to the court’s directions, if a person is now found jumping a red light, overspeeding, drunk driving or overloading a commercial goods vehicle, police will seize the licence but issue an “acknowledgment slip”, giving details of the violation and the transport authority concerned. The slip will allow the traffic violator to continue to drive for upto 90 days. 

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