Imagine owning an electric vehicle with intention of doing your bit towards reducing air pollution. Now, what are the odds of being fined for an offense that is impossible to commit through the use of such a vehicle? However, in a bizarre incident in Neelanchery, in the Malappuram district of Kerala, the owner of an electric scooter was issued an e-challan for not producing a valid 'Pollution Under Control (PUC) certificate by the state's police.

Fasil K P, a native of Mampad, a town in Malappuram district, was fined last week for not providing a PUC for his electric scooter. The hilarity, or perhaps the controversy, of the event lie in the fact that PUC certificates are mandatory only for vehicles that produce emissions: something that electric vehicles cannot. Fasil shared a picture of the challan on a social media group and deleted it later. However, the image went viral by then.

Since then, the image has been making the rounds on social media and has even caught the eye of Anand Mahindra, the chairman of Mahindra Group. He shared a social media post about the incident and wrote, "And you thought the biggest challenge to going electric was charging infrastructure?"

Pollution from an Electric Vehicle?

According to reports, the incident occurred on 6 September 2022. Officers from the Kerala Police were intercepting vehicles and booking traffic violators in Neelanchery, which is within the jurisdiction of the Karuvarakundu police station in Malapurram district.

It was during these checks that Fasil, who was riding his Ather 450X, a fully electric scooter, was issued a challan for not presenting a PUC. The receipt mentioned that the driver was charged a fine of ₹250 under Section 213(5)(e) of the Motor Vehicle Act, 1988.

Stating that his intention was not to create a sensation on social media or to sully the reputation of law enforcement, Fasil said: "I posted the receipt on a WhatsApp group. Some hours later, I deleted the post. However, before that, some people forwarded it to other WhatsApp groups and social media platforms. I did not do it purposefully to tarnish the police department." 

A Favour Gone Wrong: Police

Ather 450X
Ather 450X (Representational Picture)YouTube Screenshot/@Auto Models

Owing to the peculiarity of the situation, the pictures of the receipt and Fasil's vehicle have gone viral on social media platforms. Several individuals have even sought the intervention of Nitin Gadkari, Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways, to address such difficulties faced by motorists.

However, the police, that has been at the receiving of the social media storm, have stated that Fasil was in violation of traffic rules. "He neither had a printed document nor a soft copy of his licence. However, while issuing the ticket, the officer typed a wrong offense number in the machine and a PUC offense ticket came out," a police official said, according to PTI.

It was reported that a police officer from the concerned department explained that the challan was issued to aid the rider in paying a lower fine for the offense of not wearing a helmet. "We caught him for not wearing a helmet. The fine for the violation is ₹500. But he said he is not financially fit to pay the fine. So, we charged him ₹250 under the charge of not having a 'Pollution Under Control Certificate.' Unfortunately, we did not notice the fact that it was an electric vehicle," stated a police officer.