Jesse’s Blog

Friday, July 4, 2008

Problems with Delhi Police

I drive my own car in Delhi. The worst part about this is not the crazy traffic, nor driving on the opposite side of the road, nor even shifting with the opposite hand (as you might expect). It’s the late night checkpoints set up in posh neighborhoods by the Delhi Police to fatten their wallets that causes the most grief. Because I’m foreign, I can’t recall the last time I moved through one of these checkpoints without being stopped and asked to present my license and registration. More often than not, this is followed up by some bullshit citation they want to give me for an astronomical amount.

At first they tried to fine me for not having the original copy of my vehicle registration card with me in the vehicle. Though the amount they were asking for is high, this is correct according to the Transport Department:

Q.4 Can I keep photocopies of registration certificates with vehicles?

Ans. You should keep original registration certificate with your vehicle and keep photocopies at your home. The court can prosecute for not having original documents with you.

I started carrying the registration card around with me but to my dismay they continue to find new ways to harass me. Most recently I was stopped for talking on my cell phone while driving. While this is again a legitimate infraction, the officer was asking for 2000 rs fine! This is double the actual amount (see this page for a list of infractions).

To date I have never paid for one of these over-priced citations, nor should you. What the police are trying to do is illegal. Like most in India they are jacking the price because of your perceived status so they can make an extra profit for themselves. Know the laws and know the fines (print out the page above and carry it with you). Don’t give them a reason to harass you more than any one else, and you should be OK.

If all else fails, here’s a tip that has worked for me on more than one occasion (though bear in mind I’m not sure how legal this is; the fewer cops the better, in large numbers they may just get angry): be very confident that the police are trying to screw you and call someone “important” on the phone. More confidence is better. You could be personal friends with the Chief Magistrate! Meanwhile, pull out your camera and start taking pictures of the scene. The bigger your camera, the better. You could be a reporter! There is a good chance the cops will tell you to just move along. After all, if they are in the wrong, they don’t want trouble any more than you do.

Good luck out there.

posted by Jesse at 1:11 pm  

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