Today's Editorial

Today's Editorial - 25 March 2023

One Nation, One Challan initiative

Source: By Sohini Ghosh: The Indian Express

The Gujarat government recently told the High Court, which was hearing a public interest litigation seeking setting up of virtual traffic courts in the state, that it was already in the process of doing so under the ‘One Nation One Challan’ initiative.

What is the One Nation, One Challan initiative?

One Nation, One Challan is an initiative of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways to bring all related agencies, such as the traffic police and the Regional Transport Office (RTO), on one platform, to enable seamless collection of challans as well as data transfer.

The integrated system involves detection of traffic violations through the CCTV network and getting the registration number of the erring vehicle from applications like VAHAN (detecting the vehicle’s ownership details) and SARATHI (compilation of driving licenses). An e-challan is then generated with the relevant penalty amount, and sent to the mobile number linked with the vehicle.

In Gujarat, the initiative is operational in three commissionerate areas of Ahmedabad, Rajkot and Surat since 16 January 2023, and implementation at Vadodara is underway. The state submitted before the Gujarat HC that the government’s maintenance contract with L&T for the CCTV network at Vadodara is undergoing renewal.

How does the integration help?

Safin Hasan, DCP traffic at Ahmedabad city police, said, “So far, if we had to penalise someone from a different state using the CCTV network, we were unable to find details of the vehicle ownership, as the database was not integrated.”

Now, Hasan said, with the integration of all the states’ RTO data and traffic police data with the support of National Informatics Centre (NIC) servers, “if someone coming from Chhattisgarh is captured violating traffic regulations on CCTV, the vehicle’s registration number and its related data can be accessed by the Ahmedabad police, and the challan will be sent directly to the mobile number mentioned at the time of the vehicle’s registration. Also, e-challans so far are delivered through mobile phone SMSes, or through post when the phone number is not available. But now, the NIC is set to launch its own application for this.”

How do virtual traffic courts work?

If someone doesn’t pay the challan amount within 90 days, the challan will be automatically forwarded to a virtual court and proceedings will be initiated. Summons will be sent on the mobile phone of the offender. If the fine is still not paid, further legal proceedings will follow.

Virtual courts are aimed at eliminating the presence of litigants in the court. An accused can search their case on the virtual court’s website. Upon successful payment of fine, the case will be shown as disposed.

For now, one court is in the process of being designated as a virtual court for the whole of Gujarat — court number 16 of Ahmedabad city sessions court, which will deal dedicatedly with the ‘One Nation, One Challan’ cases. Gradually, more jurisdictional courts may be added, Hasan said.

In a petition before the Gujarat HC, it has been pointed out that in Surat city alone, over 49 lakh e-challans had been issued from April 2013 to August 2020, accumulating a fine of Rs 136 crore, of which Rs 122 crore is yet to be recovered.

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