Wednesday, September 20, 2017

The E Challan

I am thoroughly impressed by the Mumbai Traffic Police. I mean this in all honesty. Unfortunately, their greatness is not given the due recognition. The last sentence was written facetiously. Their brothers, the normal Mumbai Pandu’s or Sakharams are acknowledged as being second to no less than the hallowed Scotland Yard.

Let me tell you the reason for my high praise.

On 14th September 2017 - the day before the last day to pay advance tax, as the Income Tax Department dutifully reminded me by a polite SMS – I was driving back home at about 10:50 AM. I stopped at the erstwhile Globus traffic signal, wanting to turn right towards Bhabha Hospital from Hill Road. Now the spanking new Marks and Spencer store stands tall there. I was stopped at the head of the queue, and when the lights turned green, I took the turn. Everything was rather uneventful.

That afternoon, while I was out, I received an SMS, yes, a good old fashioned SMS from our friends at the Mumbai Traffic Police with the infamous and dreaded E Challan. The SMS informed me that my offence was “halting ahead white line” [sic]. To be fair it was an SMS so they are restricted to 140 characters. There was a link attached. I copied the link and emailed it to myself.

I opened the link. You could do it too, to see what a dreaded e challan is. Click here to see my e challan. I was gobsmacked. Several reasons. First, the link contained photographs, not one but two, with my car and numberplate clearly visible. No defence Mi Lord! I was guilty of “halting ahead white line”. As the cliché goes – Mea Culpa. Secondly, this was a photograph of my car taken just that morning. Thirdly, the e challan contained a payment link. Fourthly, and most importantly, the payment link worked. I paid the fine of a princely Rs 200 by credit card from the comfort of my home. Of course, I have taken a print of the receipt and kept it in the glove compartment of my car, just in case they catch me on the Sea Link!!!

You will agree, this is most impressive. Yes, it does gall me very much that I was caught while millions others, both washed and unwashed, mango and non mango people, violate traffic rules and get away, while I am caught. But, you do know that two wrongs do not make a right. I was wrong and was unluckily caught.

Does this mean that we do not have to deal with the dirty cops anymore? No handing out licenses, going to a “Chowky” to pay the fine and release the license? Does this kick the Pandus in the proverbial stomach, since there is no baksheesh involved? You simply get the bill at home and pay up!

It is funny saying this. But, at the end of the day, I was quite pleased with my committing the crime and receiving the punishment. Most pleasant process.

Three cheers to the Mumbai Traffic Police for a fantastic e challan experience.

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