NEW DELHI: The next time you are caught violating a traffic rule, don’t be surprised if the court or the police direct you to perform community service. Taking a cue from other countries where community service is mandatory for any traffic violation, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has culled out a set of fresh guidelines under the Road Transport and Safety Bill, 2015.
The Bill, currently with the Ministry of Law and Justice for vetting, is the initiative of Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari. Apart from fines, those driving drunk or rash will have to undergo community service if they want to avoid imprisonment. Under the Bill, community service ranging from a minimum 15 hours to a maximum 300 hours for certain traffic violations as an alternative to imprisonment was proposed. For lane-changing or overtaking, the offender will have to pay a fine of Rs 2,500 and/or 15 hours of community service or 3 days imprisonment.
In case of driving under the influence, it has been proposed to impose a fine of Rs 5,000 or 50 hours of community service or suspension of the driving licence for six months. The maximum fine for drunken driving will be Rs 10,000. Under the existing Act, the current fine is up to Rs 2,000 or imprisonment of up to six months.
As per the new draft, “Courts can either prescribe community service or imprisonment in addition to traffic fines. Where imprisonment has not been mentioned, community service has been listed as one of the penalties for some violations.”
So far, courts give community service punishment for first-timers or petty offenders, but now this will become law.
Community service works for petty and young offenders as it gives them a chance to reform, whereas a jail term could make them more dangerous. The trend is increasingly becoming popular with judges who wish to be more humane while punishing those who commit petty and non-serious crimes.
A Delhi court recently asked the traffic police to provide road safety training to Sumit Kumar (26), a software engineer who was booked for drunken driving. It asked Kumar to undergo four hours of training each day for at least 15 days and help the police sensitise other offenders.