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Rs 125 crore: That's what Kerala government earned by penalising people during lockdown

From May 8, when the lockdown came into force, to the introduction of the latest set of relaxations on August 4, the police registered 17.75 lakh cases.

Published: 10th August 2021 06:32 AM  |   Last Updated: 10th August 2021 09:57 AM   |  A+A-

File photo of Kerala Police officials checking passes for employees to enter Ernakulam market. (Photo | A Sanesh, EPS)

Express News Service

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The second wave of Covid and the subsequent restrictions have left lakhs of people penniless and pushed many of them into suicide.

However, while people suffered, the state government made the most of the curbs to mobilise money.

In just three months, the police collected at least Rs 125 crore for the exchequer by penalising people under various provisions of the Kerala Epidemic Diseases Act.

From May 8, when the lockdown came into force, to the introduction of the latest set of relaxations on August 4, the police registered 17.75 lakh cases and levied fines amounting to a total of Rs 125 crore to Rs 150 crore from people already reeling under the economic constraints. 

The data prepared by the police department, accessed by TNIE, reveals that 10.7 lakh cases were registered for not wearing masks during the period.

While 2.3 lakh vehicles were seized, 4.7 lakh cases were registered for various offences such as not maintaining social distancing, crowding, and hosting meetings and functions beyond the permissible limit.

Though the offences invite various fines ranging from Rs 500 to Rs 5,000, the police refused to reveal the data on the total fine slapped. 

According to the Epidemic Diseases Act, Rs 500 is the stipulated fine for not wearing mask. That means, from 10.7 lakh cases, the government mobillised Rs 53.6 crore.

For 2.3 lakh vehicle seizure cases, the officers imposed a fine of Rs 2,000 each, amounting to a whopping Rs 46 crore. 

Around 5,920 cases of quarantine jumping were registered during the period, with the prescribed fine being Rs 2,000.

In that regard, the public exchequer would be richer by Rs 1.1 crore if the fine amount is realised. For the 4.7 lakh cases for the violation of social distancing norms, the fine slapped ranged from Rs 500 to Rs 5,000.

As the police did not reveal a split-up of the fine under that head, TNIE used the minimum fine of Rs 500 to calculate the total amount.

Each police station given a ‘fine’ quota every morning

According to the Epidemic Diseases Act, Rs 500 is the stipulated fine for not wearing mask. That means, from 10.7 lakh cases, the government mobillised Rs 53.6 crore.

For 2.3 lakh vehicle seizure cases, the cops slapped a fine of Rs 2,000 each, amounting to a whopping Rs 46 crore for that alone. Around 5,920 cases of quarantine jumping were registered during the period, with the prescribed fine being Rs 2,000.

In that regard, the public exchequer would be richer by Rs 1.1 crore if the fine amount is realised. For the 4.7 lakh cases for the violation of social distancing norms, the fine slapped ranged from Rs 500 to Rs 5,000.

As the police did not reveal a split-up of the fine under that head, TNIE used the minimum fine of Rs 500 to calculate the total amount. 

Under the Epidemic Diseases Act, at least Rs 23.5 crore was collected by the police from people for the violation of social distancing norms.

If we use Rs 1,000 as the average fine for social distancing violation, the total amount would jump to Rs 47 crore.

That means the fine levied under all these heads from May 8 to August 4 will be in the range of Rs 124 crore to Rs 148 crore.

The surge in penalisation has apparently invited backlash from the public, said a senior police officer under the condition of anonymity. 

Meanwhile, highly-placed sources said each police station is given a fine quota every morning and the local policemen are forced to achieve the target.

Sources said the instruction for massive penalisation comes from the top and the senior officers were very much aware of it.

“The State Police Chief gets a regular update about the number of petty and suo-motu cases in each police district. That briefing is a regular procedure,” said a source.

Expressing shock at the figures, Retired High Court Judge B Kemal Pasha said the police are conducting highway robbery.

“The state government is trying to supplement their income by levying fines, and that is disheartening. Instead of helping people in this pandemic situation, they are engaged in robbery by intimidating people. This is not happening anywhere else,” he said.

VIJAYARAGHAVAN JUSTIFIES POLICE ACTION

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Even as police excesses abound in the name of Covid restrictions, acting CPM state secretary A Vijayaraghavan justified the police actions.

He told reporters that the police actions are aimed at preventing Covid spread.

“Can we buy tea for law violators? While levelling criticism against the police, it is advisable to think what carries more weight — these complaints or the selfless service rendered by them,” said Vijayaraghavan.



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