People caught talking on their mobile phones while driving in the state will now have to pay a heavier penalty for the offence than just paying a fine, with the Uttarakhand High Court ordering temporary seizure of the cellphones of the offenders in such cases for 24 hours.
Justice Rajiv Sharma of the high court said the transport department should seize the cellphones of those caught using them while driving their vehicles anywhere in the state at least for 24 hours.
The court authorised the department to seize the mobile phones of such offenders for the period by issuing them a valid receipt.
"The Uttarakhand State Transport Department shall also register the FIRs, under the relevant provisions of the IPC as well as the Motor Vehicles Act,1988, against the violators of law involved in overloading, use of mobile phones while driving/jumping red-light," the court order said.
"The transport department is authorised to seize the mobile phones temporarily for a period of 24 hours after issuing a valid receipt," it said.
Earlier, the court had ordered cancellation of the driving licences of the violators in such cases.
Considering the growing dependence of people on their mobile phones, the order is being seen as a stronger deterrent for potential offenders who are in the habit of talking on their mobile phones while driving.
"It is a good order which will be more effective in checking this growing habit than just paying a penalty and getting away," a resident of Dehradun city said while reacting to the court order.
Issuing a slew of directions to Transport Secretary D Senthil Pandiyan to improve road safety in the state, the court asked him to undertake 'road-safety audit' of the entire state within one month and to establish 73 enforcement teams for each Tehsil over and above the existing teams to undertake the enforcement and implementation of the Motor Vehicles Act.
The court also ordered construction of parapets and crash barriers along the roads and use of breathalysers to check drunken driving.
Pandiyan had been summoned by the court to reply to questions regarding implementation of earlier directions issued by the court for road safety following the recent bus accident near Dhumakot in Pauri district which killed 48 people.
The court also ordered that pillion riders on two-wheelers will now be required to wear helmets as per ISI specifications, including women and children above the age of 5.
At least one official between 7 am to 10 am and 3 pm to 6 pm will now be present to check overloading in school buses.
Every bus ferrying students is to be accompanied by an attendant and buses across the state shall now have have a "Right of Way".
The court also stressed the need for installation of GPS in every public transport bus setting a deadline of six months for this.
In another major step, the court banned the display of designation of office and unauthorised emblems on any vehicle.
Having words like high court, Army, police, journalists written on private vehicles will also be prohibited in the state.
This direction is to be implemented within 72 hours, it said, adding that it covers executive and judicial officers.
In its order, the court stated that bus conductors across the state should be in prescribed uniform.
The high court also directed the secretary, transport to issue instructions that all the drivers and conductors should behave in a dignified manner with commuters, especially with women, children and elderly people.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)