Shun laxity, make all obey rules

Shun laxity, make all obey rules
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Prime Minister Rishi Sunak

Highlights

Lancashire Constabulary in the UK has shown no one is above the law. They even fined Prime Minister Rishi Sunak £100 for not wearing a seatbelt while...

Lancashire Constabulary in the UK has shown no one is above the law. They even fined Prime Minister Rishi Sunak £100 for not wearing a seatbelt while filming a promotional video in a moving car. 10 Downing Street, the official residence of the Prime Minister, in a release said the PM "fully accepts this was a mistake and has apologised," adding that he would pay the fine. Dominic Raab, the Deputy PM, said Sunak is "a human being doing a demanding job" and has "put his hands straight up and apologised." Incidentally, this is the second penalty on Sunak. Earlier he was fined for violating Covid norms.

In India, we too have rules and take pride in the Rule of Law. But when it comes to political executive, the law hesitates to take its own course. It makes headlines if any VVIP is penalised and even that would be used as a tool for his publicity rather than setting an example of being a responsible citizen by accepting his mistake and paying fine from his pocket. The bills are promptly forwarded to the respective departments, meaning it is the general public which ends up paying price for the misdemeanours of the VVIPs.

Following the death of industrialist Cyrus Mistry in a fatal road accident on September 4, 2022 in Maharashtra, the Union road transport ministry directed all car makers to install seat belts for rear passengers and made it mandatory for passengers to use them. Traffic police went around, ordering car owners to procure the belts, saying any violator would be fined Rs 1,000.

It is not an exaggeration to say that rules in India are followed more in breach than in practice. Despite blatant violations, be it by VIPs or commoners, the cops fail to crack the whip and hence no fear of law. In many cases, VVIPs who sit in the front seat also do not wear a safety belt. We have seen leaders stand with the door open, waving to the people on either side of the roads during road shows or rallies. Equality before law does not apply to them, it seems. It's high time our police followed their UK counterparts and ensured that action is taken against all violators irrespective of their status, especially in cases involving the political executive to set an example in the society.

In UK, penalty notices should be paid within 28 days or contested. If not, the police take the matter to the court. We too have such rules but the follow-up action on the part of law enforcement agencies is little slow. Again for an example, in the UK, passengers aged 14 and over are responsible for ensuring they wear seat belts in all vehicles, if one is fitted. Drivers are held responsible for the violations by passengers under 14. Exemptions include having a doctor's certificate for a medical reason, or being in a vehicle used for a police, fire or other rescue service. Passengers caught failing to wear a seat belt when one is available can be fined £100. This can increase to £500 if the case goes to court. India presents a stark contrast. Unless rules are strictly enforced irrespective of the position one holds, disregard for the rules will persist in India.

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