Driving in India is set to change. Reports have revealed that the Road Transport and Highways ministry headed by Nitin Gadkari is likely to allow the changes proposed to the Motor Vehicles Bill to go through at its next sitting.
As reported by The Economic Times, the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill contains numerous provisions that will go a long distance in making Indian roads safer for commuters. The bill, which seeks to amend the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, has already been passed in the Lok Sabha and is currently pending in the Rajya Sabha where the government is 11 seats short of a simple majority and must rely on other parties to push the bill through.
The contents of the amendments will remain the same, according to sources, with Aadhaar likely to become mandatory for getting a license and registration certificates. The amendment seeks to computerise licencing authorities in order to introduce a uniform registration process across states.
According to media reports, the bill may bring drastic changes in automated fitness testing of transport vehicles big and small to curb the menacing problem of pollution while also introducing a host of other big-bang pollution-curbing measures to keep in pace with Paris climate deal.
Among other things, the new law will also bring into its ambit third-party insurers and cab aggregators. It also looks to set up a National Road Safety Board.
The most revolutionary types of changes on the cards include: (a) a huge surge in fines for various kinds of traffic violations, (b) making car owners criminally liable for accidents/violations caused by juveniles, (c) recall of defective car parts by auto companies, (d) holding companies accountable for poor build quality, (e) protection of good samaritans.
Listed below are the most important ones among the measures proposed by this vital bill.
— The Government of India will provide compensation of Rs 2 lakhs or more to the victim's family in cases of hit-and-run fatalities. The current provision is just for Rs25,000.
— In cases of traffic violations by juveniles, the guardian/owner of the car will be held culpable — unless they can show beyond reasonable that the offence was committed by the juvenile was done without their knowledge or in had knowledge but tried to prevent it. The juvenile will be tried under the Juvenile Justice Act, 2013 in the latter case. The registration of the vehicle involved will stand cancelled.
— Minimum fine for drunken driving has been bumped up from Rs 2,000 to Rs 10,000 while the penalty for rash driving has been hiked from Rs 1,000 to Rs 5,000.
— Driving without a licence will now attract a minimum fine of Rs 5,000 (Rs 500 at present). Over-speeding will set you back by Rs 1,000-2,000 (currently Rs 400). Driving without wearing a seatbelt would attract a fine of Rs 1,000 as against Rs 100 at present.
— A Motor Vehicle Accident Fund will provide compulsory insurance cover to all road users in the country for certain types of accidents.
— Vehicles whose components/engine do not meet the required standards will have to be recalled. Manufacturers can be fined up to Rs 500 crore over sub-standard components or engine.
— A 6-month time limit has been specified for applying for compensation to the Claims Tribunal in road accident cases.
— Aadhaar will now be mandatory for acquiring a driving licence and vehicle registration.
— Civic agencies, contractors, consultants will be accountable for faulty design, construction or poor maintenance of roads causing accidents.
— The cap on liability for third-party insurance will be removed. The 2016 Bill had put a cap on the maximum liability at Rs 10 lakh for death and Rs 5 lakh for grievous injury.
— The time limit for renewal of driving licence is increased from one month to one year before and after the expiry date.
— There will also be a provision for the protection of Good Samaritans in the amendment — the ones who come forward to help accident victims will be protected from civil or criminal liability. It will be optional for them to disclose their identity to the police or medical personnel.