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Tuesday, June 10, 2014

TIGHTEN THE LEGAL BELT; BEFORE CHARGING CASES ON SEAT BELT - An open letter to Authorities.

AN OPEN LETTER ON COMPULSORY SEAT BELTS...to the
AUTHORITIES CONCERNED

TIGHTEN THE LEGAL BELT; BEFORE CHARGING CASES ON SEAT BELT
Obviously, the decision by Transport Commissioner of Kerala to take stringent measures against those who fail to wear seat belt while driving cars is a good move indeed. It can reduce death rate in accidents. But the latest ultimatum by the officials that they would charge cases against those who are not wearing seat belt; is legally sustainable?
Off course, the issue is hyper technical. But law is law. Recently, an enforcement officer of Motor Vehicles Department declared in a news paper that, they will charge fine ranging from Rs 100 to Rs 500. How dare he can say so, when the legislature through the provisions of Motor Vehicles Act Section 177, categorically describes that the fine for first offence is Rs 100 and Rs 300 for subsequent offence.
Law is trite
Law is trite that, the Rule 1389(iii) of Central Motor Vehicle rules 1989 make it mandatory to wear seat belts for all those who travel in car; even if it is rear sears, facing front. The good intention and industrious activities to curb Motor Accidents in Kerala by strict implementation of various provisions of Motor Vehicle Act in Kerala need to be appreciated.           
But the directive to register cases for not using seat belts are not legally sustainable. Reasons are hyper technical. For those who plead guilty, can pay fine and go; well and good. But those who are not willing to pay fine by pleading guilty; should have been charged properly. There arises the hyper technical issue of bar under Section 155(2) of Code of Criminal Procedure Code.
The offences related to violation of the Rule 138(iii) of Central Motor Vehicle rules 1989 are not cognizable in nature. It means, the police/motor vehicle officials cannot register a case; instead they can only seek sanction from the magistrate to proceed with the case.  This aspect is discussed by Hon’ble High Court of Kerala in Mahboob vs. State of Kerala (2011 2 KHC 261). It was categorically held that even the offences U/Sec. 184, 185 etc of that the Motor Vehicle Act are non cognizable in nature.  Obviously  either the transport officials or the police officials are not having any power to register a case or to start investigation coming under the violation of any of the provisions of Motor Vehicle Act including 138(iii) of Central Motor Vehicle Rules (wearing Seat belt) with reference to the provisions in Chapter 12 of the Cr.P.C especially Sec. 155(2)
          Admittedly the Motor vehicle inspector acting Under Section 213(iii) exercise the powers of police which are exercisable by police under the Motor Vehicles Act.  No officer empowered under Motor Vehicle Act is having jurisdiction to register a case to start an investigation in respect of violation of provision in rules in 138(iii) of the Central Motor Vehicles Rules 1989.  Therefore the option available is to apply sanction for an order from the concerned Magistrate Court to register the said case and the file charge.
          Be that it so, how the officials can give ultimatum through the media that, all those who are not wearing seat belts will be charged with cases?