The Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2019

Introduction

The Motor Vehicles (Amendment ) Bill, 2019 is based on state Transport Ministers community recommendations. Because the Act aimed to prevent individuals from breaching traffic laws, it imposed heavy fines for drink driving, license-free driving, reckless driving, over-speed, etc. These penalties would rise by 10 per cent per year on April 1, as notified by the Central Government. The new Act also extended the expiration period from one month to one year following the expiry date for driving licences. Even if the renewal is expired for more than a year would the driver be eligible to take a competence test.
The Motor Vehicles (Amendment ) Bill, 2019 was introduced by Road Transport and Highways Minister Mr. Nitin Gadkari at Lok Sabha on July 15 , 2019. The Bill aims to amend the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 to ensure road safety. The Act provides for the issuing of motor vehicle-related licenses and permits, motor vehicle regulations, and penalties for infringement of those provisions.

Why is it important?

According to data from the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, 4,64 lakh accidents occurred in 2017 which claimed the lives of 1,47 lakh people. Two-wheelers accounted for over a third of all road deaths. Little by little, when all States continue to enforce the provisions of the Act with heavy fines and incarceration for drink driving, driving without license and insurance and juvenile offences, people can begin to obey laws and road injuries will gradually decrease. Remember, however, that State governments are free to make their own laws and regulations, provided that it is just a model act. Success depends on how well states are following the act’s provisions.

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Features of the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 2019

• Compensation for road accident victims:

During the golden hour the central government will establish a cashless care system for victims of road accidents. The Bill describes golden hour as the span of up to one hour after a serious injury, during which the greatest likelihood of prevention of death by timely medical treatment is. The central government can also make a scheme for providing temporary relief to third party insurance applicants seeking compensation. The Bill raises the minimum compensation for hit and run cases as follows: I from Rs 25,000 to two lakh rupees in case of death, and (ii) from Rs 12,500 to Rs 50,000 in case of grievous injury.

• Compulsory insurance:

The Bill requires the central government to create a Motor Vehicle Accident Fund to provide all road users in India with mandatory insurance cover. This will be used for: (i) treatment of persons involved in road accidents under the Golden Hour Scheme, (ii) compensation to a person’s representatives who died in a hit and run accident, (iii) compensation to a person who was seriously injured in a hit and run accident, and (iv) compensation to any other person as provided by the central government. This Fund will be funded by: (i) payment of a nature approved by the central government, (ii) a central government grant or loan, (iii) balance of the Solatium Fund (existing fund under the Act to provide compensation for hit and run accidents), or (iv) some other source as provided by the central administration.

• Good Samaritans:

The Bill describes a good Samaritan as a person who offers medical or non-medical emergency assistance to a victim at the scene of an accident. The assistance must have been (i) in good faith, (ii) on a voluntary basis and (iii) without any benefit expected. Such a person shall not be liable for any civil or criminal action for any injury or death to a victim of an accident, caused by their negligence in providing victim assistance.

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• Recall of vehicles:

The Bill requires central government to order motor vehicle recall if a vehicle defect can endanger the environment, or the driver, or other road users. The recalled vehicle manufacturer would be forced to: (i) reimburse the purchasers for the vehicle’s full expense, or (ii) replace the faulty vehicle with another vehicle with equivalent or better specifications.

• National Transportation Policy:

The central government, in consultation with state governments, may develop a National Transportation Policy. The policy will: (i) create a road transport planning structure, (ii) develop a permit grant mechanism and (iii) set goals, among other things, for the transport system.

• Road Safety Board:

The Bill provides for a National Road Safety Board, to be formed through a notification by the central government. The Board will recommend the central and state governments on all aspects of road safety and traffic management including: (i) motor vehicle standards, (ii) vehicle registration and licensing, (iii) road safety standards, and (iv) the promotion of new vehicle technology.

• Offences and penalties:

i. Charge for drink and driving: The charge is now raised from Rs 2,000 to Rs 10,000 along with six months ‘ imprisonment. Rs. 15,000 will be fine upon the completion of this act.
ii. Rash driving would cost Rs. 5000 fine earlier this was Rs.1000.
iii. Driving without license of driving will be fined Rs 5000 instead of 500 earlier.
iv. Offence by Minors is placed under a separate group. Now guardian of the vehicle’s juvenile / owner will be fined Rs. 25,000 with 3 yrs in jail. Motor Vehicle registration will be cancelled.
v. When a car manufacturer fails to meet motor vehicle requirements, a fine of up to Rs 100 crore or imprisonment of up to one year, or both, shall be levied.
v. If a contractor fails to meet the requirements of road design, the liability shall be up to Rs.1 lac.
Vii. Driving without insurance will be fined Rs 2000 under section 196 of the Motor Vehicle Act.
viii. Under section 194 D; riding without Helmets will be fined on Rs 1000 and disqualified for license for 3 months.
ix. Under section 194 B of the Act; it will cost Rs. 1000 to drive without seat belt.
x. Speeding / Racing will be fined Rs 5,000 in lieu of earlier Rs 500.
xi. Under section 194 E of the Act; it will cost Rs 10,000 not giving way to emergency vehicles.

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• Taxi aggregators:

The Bill describes aggregators as digital intermediaries or market places which passengers may use to communicate with a driver for transport (taxi services) purposes. These aggregators are given state licenses However, they must comply with the Information Technology Act , 2000.

 

Conclusion

The increased penalties would serve as a deterrence that should discourage road users from driving recklessly. However, other experts and even the Parliamentary Standing Committee suggested that if drunk driving caused death, the serve would constitute a guilty homicide that does not equate to murder rather than negligence. This proposal was not included in the final amendment because it requires an IPC amendment for which the Ministry of Home Affairs is expected to make necessary amendments.And the planned amendments to the old Motor Vehicle Act, 2019 is the way forward for improving the Indian transport network and punishing the willful criminals. I hope the new motor vehicle act will reduce the number of road traffic incidents and crimes.

Author: AVI SHRIVASTAVA,
Jagran Lakecity University, Bhopal 1st Year

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