On 9th August 2016 the Road Transport and Highways Minister, Mr. Nitin Gadkari introduced The Motor Vehicles Amendments Bill 2016, in the lower house. This bill seeks amendment of the 28 years old Motor Vehicles Act, 1988.
The Bill caught controversy right from the beginning. Just as the transport minister was about to start his reading of the bill several members of the house started complaining that they haven’t received a copy of the bill two days prior to reading as per the norms of the house. Situation got under control after the intervention of speaker who said that copies of the bill was circulated among the members on the morning of August 9. She asked all the members to have a look in their papers and go through the text.
This Bill is drafted upon the recommendations of a committee which is headed by Rajasthan Government’s transport minister Mr. Yoonus Khan. Beside Mr. Khan the committee also consist of 18 states' transport ministers of various political parties. This committee has submitted three reports to the central ministry of Road Transport and Highways. The Bill was under the shadow of the famous GST Bill which was also presented in the same session and thus it received less attention and consideration by the media then it should have. Nevertheless the bill focusses on some of the very important provisions of road safety, third party insurance and increased penalties for negligence.
This Bill amends 63 out of 223 sections of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 and proposes the inclusion of 28 new sections. The bill contains the provision for recalling of vehicles which are found to be harmful for the environment the real defaulters in this case that is the vehicle manufacturing company will bear the expenses of replacing vehicle to the owner or reimbursing the owner for their losses as they are the ones who are responsible for the substandard environmental norms in their manufactured product. It states that if the vehicle manufacturing company fails to comply with the basic construction and maintenance standards of their vehicles the fine may extend up to 100 crores along with imprisonment of one year.
The Bill made vehicular insurance mandatory it asks government for creation of a motor vehicle accident fund which will cover each and every road user of India. The fund will be credited by a tax approved and a loan or grant made by the Central Government. The bill increases the compensation for death in hit and run case and also protect good Samaritans who in good faith, voluntarily helps the accident victims without the expectation of any reward. The Bill grants immunity to such persons against any civil or criminal suits in case of death of the accident victims.
The Bill seeks for computerisation of several essential services like that of issue or grant of license or permit, application or registration of license, payment of fines etc.
The Bill recognises the offences committed by juveniles. In such cases the guardian or the owner of the vehicle will be prosecuted if they fail to prove their due diligence in prevention of commitment of the offence by their juvenile wards and the juvenile will also be tried under the Juvenile Justice Act, 2000. Finally the Bill imposes very heavy penalties for offences like overloading, driving without helmets and drunk driving.
The Bill aims to reduce the ever increasing number of road accidents which is estimated to be around 5 lakhs per year (out of which 1.5 lakhs victims die) by half. The Transport Minister of India Mr. Nitin Gadkari is optimistic and terms this bill as the biggest reform in the Road Safety and transportation sector he expressed his heartiest gratitude towards Prime Minister Modi and Group of Transport Minister Committee which submitted its suggestions to the central ministry.
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