THE MOTOR VEHICLES (AMENDMENT) BILL, 2019

Author: Nishi Doshi, 1st Year, LL.B, Jitendra Chauhan College of Law, Mumbai The article has been written by the author while pursuing the internship programme with us. INTRODUCTION TO THE BILL In a country with a population of over 1.3 billion people, there is car ownership of approx 30 vehicles for every thousand Indians, according to a survey. Increase in the Motor Vehicles has increased the ratio of accidents and deaths. In order to regulate this problem, the Government of India has brought upon a solution of passing an Act known as Motor Vehicles Act, which regulates the provisions related to roads and also enabling the victims to claim compensation. This article hereby, analyses and gives a brief on the current amended Motor Vehicles Act, 2019. The Bill was presented by Minister for Road,Transport and Highways of India Shri Nitin Gadkari and was passed by the Rajya Sabha on 31st July, 2019 and it seeks to amend The Motor Vehicles Act, 1988. The Bill was passed with a majority of 108 votes and was dissented by 13 votes. The 2019 Bill Introduced a major improvement in penalties for traffic rules violation, removing faulty automobile components by automotive makers, holding builders accountable for poor quality of infrastructure and rendering vehicle owners criminally liable for violations committed by underage drivers. One of the major reasons for the increase in the number of deaths due to accidents is because there has been a failure to follow traffic rules. According to the latest statistics about 1.49 lakh people in India have died due to road accidents and there were 4.61 lakh road crashes. Over the last decade the nation has lost 1.3 lakh people every year on an average due to road accidents. Previously, the Act was unable to meet the needs of a large economy that is witnessing increase in the demand of travel, expeditious motorization, advances in technology and declining in road safety. HISTORY AND AMENDMENTS The Motor Vehicles Act was first passed in the year 1988 by the Indian Parliament. The Indian Motor Vehicles Act, 1914, was a central law instituted and applied in British India. Several Princely states followed suit, with local amendments. The first act that came into force was Indian Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 after which it was later amended in 2017 and the recent one of 2019, putting forward major amendments in fines and penalties compared to the earlier ones. To make roads safer and to protect people at large, the Government of India in consultation with state transport ministers came up with this Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill 2019 to make changes to the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988. SALIENT FEATURES OF THE BILL ● Heavy fines for offences – The bill has raised fines levied on drivers to make roads safer by increasing the amount from ₹ 2000/- to ₹ 10,000/-. Along with this, Driving without licence has also been increased from ₹ 500 to ₹ 5,000. It should be noted that these fines will be increased by 10% after every 3 Years. ● Relief For Renewal of Driving License – ○ The duration for renewal of Driver’s License has been increased from one month to one year and if it is delayed more than a year then the driver has to undergo a competency test. ● Good Samaritan Policy – ○ Under the latest bill a person who renders emergency medical or non medical assistance to the victim at the scene of an accident, such a person will not be liable for any civil or criminal action or will not suffer any Injury or Death of the Accident Victim. ● Liability for Juvenile Drivers- ○ In case of an accident caused by a juvenile, the guardian of the juvenile or the owner of the motor vehicle will be held liable. As per the 2019 amendment, the guardian/ owner will be punishable with the imprisonment for the term of 3 years and with the fine of ₹ 25,000. The only exception to this rule is that if the juvenile has a Learner’s License then the guardian/owner of such vehicle will not be held liable for the same. ● National Transportation Policy- ○ The Central Government has introduced a National Transportation Policy to establish a framework for transportation of passengers and goods within which the transport bodies are required to operate. This policy will organize a framework for granting of Permits and Schemes. ● Cashless Treatment- ○ This bill also proposes cashless treatment for the victims of accidents during golden hour. ● Compensation in Hit and Run cases- ○ In case of hit and run the minimum amount of compensation is increased to ₹ 2, 00,000/- in case of death and ₹ 25,000/- in case of grievous injury which was earlier ₹ 25,000/- and ₹ 12,500/- respectively. ● Automobile Manufacturer- ○ Under this bill the manufacturers can now be ordered to recall the vehicles which are causing damage to the environment. ● Road Contractors- ○ Under the new bill the road contractors can also be made liable for faulty constructions. ● Driving License- ○ Obtaining a Driving License is difficult as driving tests have become technology driven to eradicate corruption and manipulation. Moreover the government had also made online identity verification AADHAAR mandatory for getting a license to put a firm end on the fake license. A national register of driving license, which serves as a central depository of all relevant information and helps users to have service available anywhere and anytime, will be maintained to make transfer of vehicles easier across the states. ● Power to regulate the Taxi Aggregators – ○ Government has powers to regulate Taxi Aggregators like OLA and UBER under the new bill. Earlier under the 2017 bill the government lacked the power to regulate the taxi aggregators. ● Insurance Cover- ○ Motor Vehicles Accident Fund will be maintained by the Central Government to provide compulsory Insurance Cover to all road users in India. It can be used for the recovery of persons involved in road accidents as provided for in the Golden Hour Scheme as well as for reimbursement to the members of persons who died or were critically injured in a hit and run accident or for some other individual as prescribed by Central Government. COMPARISON WITH 2017 BILL There have been drastic changes in the 2019 bill as compared to the 2017 bill in terms of fines and penalties. The changes such as travelling without a ticket have been revised from ₹ 200 to ₹ 500. The fine for over speeding has been amended from ₹ 400 to ₹ 1,000 for light vehicles and ₹ 2000 for medium vehicles. As there is an increase in the death ratio in our country, the bill has made some stringent provisions for dangerous driving which levies penalty of up to ₹ 5,000 by amending earlier fine of ₹ 1,000. Because of the same reason, the government proposed to levy more penalties for vehicle speeding or racing of about ₹ 5,000 by changing the earlier fine of ₹ 500. Provisions related to two wheeler vehicles such as riding without helmet encourages a fine of ₹ 1000 plus 3 months suspension which earlier had only a fine of ₹100. In case of driving without insurance, the bill charges a fine of ₹ 2,000/- which was earlier ₹ 1,000/-. Two –wheeler overloading attracts a penalty of ₹ 1000/- along with 3 months suspension which if compared with 2017 bill used to be ₹100/-. There are some vehicles without permits where the penalty is the same as that of the above. There was no provision earlier for juvenile offences, which now has been introduced in the 2019 bill which allows fines between ₹25, 000/- to 1,00,000/-. Taxi aggregators like Ola and UBER in case of any violation of licensing will be charged fines ranging between ₹25,000/- to 1,00,000/- which earlier had no mention in 2017 bill. If a person drives even after license disqualification, he will be made to pay a penalty of ₹10,000/- which was earlier ₹500/-. ISSUES AND CHALLENGES WITH THE AMENDMENT Some experts critique that increasing the fines and penalties can only lead to an increase in corruption. This increase in fine will only increase the burden on the common man. Despite being a concurrent subject, the Central Government is unable to impose these new laws across the Nation because many States are opting out by going back to old laws with low fines. These are just political initiatives which have very little to do with road safety. There is a drawback that there will be no written test for getting Drivers License. There is no emphasis on safety of car passengers in the back of the car. There should be provision for them for wearing seat belts. CONCLUSION With the implementation of the new Motor Vehicles Act 2019, it is obvious that the goal is to ensure that the traffic laws should be followed more seriously, which, in effect, would encourage healthy and efficient mobility throughout the nation. We assume that with the implementation of the changes, citizens can now be more vigilant when using their vehicles and avoid drunk driving, non-usage of seat belts, rash driving, over speeding and racing. The Bill aims to reduce deaths caused due to road accidents. The Standing Committee on Transport also acknowledged that the number of injuries caused by driver’s mistake could be wrong. Certain explanations for road crashes include blame on the part of drivers of other cars and also defects in the car. The Motor Vehicle Bill aims to fix these concerns by stringent regulations and provisions. The online system would hopefully help to eradicate corruption from the system. Disclaimer: Views and opinions as expressed in the Research Articles are solely of the author and any member of the core team of the website shall not be liable for the same.

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