Paying fine for smoking in public? Get a receipt
By Marx Tejaswi - BANGALORE
22nd December 2012 11:14 AM
Next time if you are caught for smoking in a public place and end up paying a fine of Rs 200, don’t expect a receipt.
Demanding a receipt may only make you go to a police station, and return without a receipt. The police, with the help of the BBMP, enforce the ban on smoking in public places in the city.
The allegation against the police is that usually they do not give receipt for the fine collected.
In some instances, the offenders demanding receipts have been taken to police stations and sent back without receipts. However, the higher officials say they will act against errant officers if such cases are brought to their notice.
Officially, since January 2011, 960 people have been booked for smoking in public places and a fine of Rs 1.54 lakh has been collected.
On an average, only three people have been booked on every two days.
But Hoysala jeeps moving around in every corner and collecting ‘fine’ from those smoking in public places is a common sight in Bangalore.
“I was smoking at a roadside tea stall on Mathikere Main Road. A police constable noticed it and asked me to get into the jeep. When I offered to pay the fine, he took my address in a paper which appeared like a penalty form. I paid Rs 200 and asked for a receipt.
I left the place without a receipt as the police asked me to go to the station to get it,” said Suneel S, a private company employee.
A resident of Gayatri Nagar, on condition of anonymity, said, “When I was caught smoking, an ASI and a constable asked me to pay Rs 200 as penalty.
I asked for a receipt and they asked me to come to the police station where receipts have been kept. I was afraid of those policemen and paid the penalty.”
Collecting fine without receipt is offence However, in some cases they give receipts only if demanded.
“Collecting money without giving a receipt is an offence,” Additional Commissioner of Police (Law and Order) T Sunil Kumar said. According to him, smoking at roadside tea stalls or bakeries is also a punishable offence.
Tea stalls fell under the definition of hotel, which was considered to be a public place under the law, he said.
“Let the people file complaints against the police personnel who do not give them receipts, and we will take action against those police personnel,” he added.
What is a public place?
A ‘public place’ defined in the rules is any place to which the public have access whether as a right or not.
They include open and indoor auditoria and stadia, hospital buildings, health institutions, amusement centres, restaurants, hotels, public offices, court buildings, educational institutions, libraries, clubs, bars (where smoking takes place), railway stations, bus stops, workplaces, shopping malls, cinema halls, refreshment rooms, discotheques, coffee houses, pubs and airport lounges.
However, public places do not include parking spaces, roads, open market places, parks and private homes.
What people can do?
In case of violation of smoke-free rules in any public place, the people can lodge a complaint with 24x7 helpline 1800-110-456. This national toll-free helpline has been launched by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
The public can lodge complaints against the police personnel who threatens smokers upon asking receipts for the penalty paid.
According to the helpline executives, police constables can collect penalty only if they are accompanied by officers above the rank of inspector of police.
State food and drug administration officers, representatives of panchayat raj institutions, finance managersdistrict health society, civil surgeons, and chief medical officers at district- level are among thosewho have additionally been authorised to take action within a defined jurisdiction.
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