TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN
Following is a report of an incident that occurred on Nov. 3, 2017 at the check-post on the Tripunithura mini-bypass road. Even though the conclusions are based on one incident, the issues are systemic in nature that it must be prevalent through out Kerala Police.
The problem started with the practice of stopping moving traffic and demanding breath test by blowing into a device. I object to it as I consider it unhygienic, since it can facilitate the spread of germs, viruses or worse. Usually when I object, they let me proceed without the breath test. But on Nov. 3rd they insisted. Since I did not yield, they became argumentative, rude and started using abusive language. There were about 8 police officers.
Since I continued my refusal to blow into the device, they demanded my driver’s license, vehicle registration and insurance. I produced the driver’s license, copy of vehicle registration, and previous insurance. I didn’t have copy of current insurance with me. They impounded the vehicle and said it will be released when I produce current insurance document.
I requested a receipt for the vehicle so that I can go and fetch the insurance papers. No one in the police station would give me a receipt for leaving the vehicle at the station, and wanted me to wait for the Sub-inspector responsible. The waiting took about an hour, and the Sub-inspector told me that he will not give a receipt.
I left vehicle at the station, came back with the insurance document and took possession of the vehicle without further aggravation.
Here are my observations about the incident:
- The breath-test is being used as an instrument for harassment and creating inconvenience.
- Based on some of their argumentative statements, it seems the traffic patrol team does not even have rudimentary understanding of “rule of law” concepts.
- Use of rude and abusive language seems to be their regular behavior pattern.
- The patrol team had a tendency to gang-up, with different team members making up facts and relaying to others so that they have a distorted view of the situation.
- Impounding a vehicle for non-availability of a document is abuse of power.
- Not able to fulfill the request for receipt for impounded vehicle indicate that the Kerala Police procedures are archaic, without established uniform rules.
Since Kerala government actively sells and promotes alcohol consumption and depends on it as a key source of tax revenue, even to pretend that breath-tests are in public interest would be laughable. And the police have no business conducting unhygienic practices on the public.