The situation on ground, post LHC’s verdict on e-challans
ecently, the Lahore High Court (LHC) suspended an earlier decision by its single bench, and declared the e-challans as illegal. The court ruled that as e-challans had been imposed without the cabinet’s approval, these could not be applied without proper legislation.
As a result, the violators of traffic rules would now be given challans on the spot, and the authorities cannot impose fines electronically.
It is pertinent to note that an e-challan is issued by the Lahore Safe City Authority which is responsible for monitoring traffic as well as law and order situation in the city, with the help of cameras installed at scores of spots in the city.
In his verdict, the LHC judge, Justice Tariq Saleem Sheikh also directed the Punjab chief secretary to bring any lapses to the notice of the chief minister. He was hearing a petition by a transporter who had come to know that around 55 unpaid e-challans had been issued against him.
Meanwhile, Lahore continues to witness traffic snarl-ups on several main roads of the city, especially during peak hours, while the traffic police seem unable to clear the mess in time, which causes delays for the commuters. Those violating the traffic rules are chased by the traffic wardens riding their motorbikes, at times unsuccessfully, as the violators often manage to get away with it.
In case of violation of the one-way rule, the fine is Rs 2,000 for both the motorcyclist and car driver, as per the order of the court which recognised it as a gross violation that can threaten human life.
Talking to TNS, the Safe City Authority spokesperson Tausif Sabeeh says that the Authority has stopped issuing e-challans to the traffic rules violators after a division bench of the Lahore High Court suspended the order of the single bench of the LHC. He says that the Authority “was imposing fines somewhere between 5,000 and 8,000 on persons caught violating traffic rules [through safe city cameras]. Post LHC’s verdict, the fines for traffic violations range between 200 and 500.”
However, in case of violation of the one-way rule, the fine is Rs 2,000 for both the motorcyclist and car driver, as per the order of the court which recognised it as a gross violation that can threaten human life.
In response to a query, he says that the traffic police only challan the violators of traffic rules on the spot where the SCA cameras are not installed. “The contribution to the government revenue by the SCA in the form of traffic challans is 43 per cent. Definitely, it’s a handsome amount.”
When asked if the traffic authorities have recommended an increase in penalty rates, he says, “That’s right. In fact, it has been observed that there has been a considerable reduction in traffic violations. That’s why the authorities have given recommendations in this regard.”
The final decision rests with the Provincial Assembly, he says.
The writer is a senior journalist and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org