Even though the Central Motor Vehicles Act, 1989, bans number plates that are only in Marathi or any Devanagari script, an RTI reveals that the number of cases registered against two-wheelers displaying Marathi number plates has jumped nearly three-fold in the last three years.
As per the statistics, while 7,936 cases were registered in 2009, in 2010 the cases jumped to a whopping 18,000. Subsequently, in 2011, the number of cases stood at 19,299.
“People should understand that if they meet with an accident in another state, a Marathi number plate will stump the police and cause a delay in reaching out to the family of the injured. Similarly, if a car or bike is stolen in a state where police officials do not understand Marathi, then there will be greater difficulty in locating the vehicle,” said activist Chetan Kothari, who filed the RTI.
Among other details sought by Kothari were cases registered for non-usage of helmet, not displaying a number plate at all and usage of a mobile phone while riding a bike.
Statistics provided stated that the number of people caught for not using helmets had reduced from 2,72,609 cases in 2009 to 2,23,969 cases in 2011 in the city.
These cases also include those in which riders were caught for not using an ISI-marked helmet. This is a reassuring sign that the awareness drive and action being taken against offenders in this regard is working.
However, alert policing has not been as good a deterrent when it comes to cases related to missing number plates or use of mobile phones while riding two-wheelers (see box).
Additional commissioner of police (traffic), Brijesh Singh, said, “I would not say that Marathi number plates have increased as we do not compile figures for them in particular. In fact, we register cases for fancy number plates or the ones that are not in the correct format.”
“The figures are also reflective of many special drives we have taken like those on helmets and number plates. These were also taken after incidents of various accidents were reported,” Singh added.