#CheckYourChallan - A Common Cause Initiative
Q. Have you checked your challan?
Well, if you have that’s great but in case you haven’t, you should immediately get to it.
According to a report in the Hindu, between March 23 and June 15, 2020, over 16 lakh challans were issued in Delhi alone. The report attributed this rise to (a) extensive deployment of CCTV cameras and (b) over speeding by vehicles, particularly after the lockdown, which resulted in empty roads. Recently, the Times of India has reported that 27 lakh challans have been issued, a third of which were compounded after paying up fines totalling to Rs. 120 crore.
Q. How to check your challan?
Notifications about challan are forwarded to the registered mobile number of the vehicle. Your challan can be checked on the E-parivahan website: https://echallan.parivahan.gov.in/index/accused-challan by entering the details of your vehicle number, DL number and challan number.
Q. How to get your registered mobile no. changed for intimation of challans?
In case your registered mobile number has changed and you want that change to reflect in the records for intimation of any challans issued against your vehicle, head to your state transport police website. For instance, The Delhi Transport Police provides for the provision to change your registered mobile no on this link: https://delhitrafficpolice.nic.in/echallan/index/update-mobile.
In the event, there exists no online remedy reach out to the Regional Transport Authority Office (RTO) or the traffic police/authority for resolving this issue.
Q. Why this campaign?
There exists a growing information asymmetry between the authorities issuing the challans and against who the challans have been issued. This has resulted in widespread confusion about the procedure for the issuance of challans, communication of challans and the mode of payment for challans. The campaign aims to support & assist the citizens to access avenues for traffic grievance redressal.
Q. How are Challans issued?
At first, the method for the issuance of Traffic Challans was by post, at the address submitted by the owner at the time of the vehicle’s registration. With the advent of mobile phones, this was expanded by providing intimations through text messages on the registered mobile numbers, which are often incorrect.
Thereafter, an online portal was set up by individual state police departments, which would have an online record of all Traffic challans issued against a registered vehicle owner.
Q. What is the problem?
While this move towards digital governance was an appreciation worthy attempt it, however, it left much to be desired. Many metropolitan cities in India in the past few years have started to deploy motion-sensor cameras on traffic lights to detect traffic violations. These cameras are able to capture images of cars which are engaging in even the most minor of violations. The online portal is then able to file the challan against the registered vehicle number.
A key aspect of this system is that the onus is placed on the citizen to go and check if any challans have been issued against them as existent models of challans delivery via post and mobile number have not always been effective.
Q. Is it really that big of an issue?
Well, in short, yes and for these 3 reasons.
1) The most critical aspect that comes up is the information asymmetry that exists in the issuance of challans. India is a country with a wide economic disparity which further results in an ever-growing digital divide. At a point in time when many individuals do not have access to the internet and/or devices to access said internet, let alone the knowledge about the method for payment of challans, creating an obligation of following through with the law without knowing the law, is an unfairly high obligation.
2) This issue is further aggravated by the fact that the Motor Vehicles Amendment Act 2019 notified 24 non-compoundable offences (for which one has to appear in court) for which violators can be charged with penalties and/or a jail term. The non-delivery of challan – and further non-payment of penalty – can potentially result in crippling fines and even a jail term for many citizens simply because they were not kept informed about it.
3) The last contentious issue lies with the payment system established for resolution of challans. Take for instance Delhi, the virtual court portal does not allow for a payment of above Rs. 2000 to be made through debit cards, with credit cards and online banking the only accepted medium. As a result of which many medium to low-income individuals who may not have access to credit cards are unable to pay their challans.
Q. Is penalising violators a functional strategy?
The main objective behind penalising those found in violation of traffic rules is to deter them from repeating their errors. There are two major issues with this. Firstly, deterrence as a method of punishment and as a way of bringing about lasting changes in people has yielded very limited success at best. Secondly, the process/system is not seamless enough for a violator to know that they have committed a violation. Recently, multiple instances have surfaced where the vehicle owners had to forgo their vehicle in order to recover the amount required to pay against the challans issued to them. More often than not, people do not even receive communication from the traffic department about their violations or the challan.
Q. Is there an alternative to deal with this?
Common Cause has made representations to the Ministry of Roadways, Transport & Highways and the Delhi Commissioner of Police to bring to their attention for carrying out awareness campaigns to inform citizens about both the traffic violations and the various systems in place for the payment of challans.
Thus it is neither prudent nor beneficial to keep penalising the vehicle owners. Instead, a point system could be introduced, where one could connect their vehicles to their challan app & their challan app would reflect the status of vehicles added to their account. For violations, depending upon its gravity & other related factors, negative points could be assigned in case of traffic violations. Once such violations cross a certain number, then a financial penalty may be imposed. For instance, every person shall start from 0 at the time of issuance of their license. If they violate traffic situations, negative points may be added to their profile. An excess of negative points could later lead to a financial penalty.
The idea of imposing fines is to educate commuters and create better and safer roads. The system of collecting fines must be seen as a way of ensuring better traffic compliance and not as a means of revenue generation as it presently has turned out to become.
Q. How can you help?
Common Cause intends to serve as a point of linkage between the authorities and citizens to address this problem.
We are doing this by way of running a digital media campaign, and you can chip in by posting your story, a video (if any), source (if of newspaper article) with #CheckYourChallan or write to us at email@example.com.