The Motor Vehicles Bill, 2019 was introduced in Lok Sabha on 15th July 2019 by Mr Nitin Gadkari, the Minister for Road Transport and Highways. The bill was passed in Lok Sabha on July 23rd, 2019. Then on July 31, 2019, Rajya Sabha passed the bill while suggesting some changes. On August 5th, 2019, the bill was passed in Lok Sabha after making the necessary changes. The bill discusses standards for motor vehicles, penalties for violations of these provisions, and grant of licenses and permits related to motor vehicles. In the Motor Vehicle Act, there are 223 sections out of which 68 sections have been amended. The motor vehicle bill proposes the insertion of 28 new sections. With the new amendments, there has been a hefty increase in penalties violating the traffic rules. The increase in penalties is 5 to 10 times more than what it was in the previous bill. The main aim behind revamping the transportation laws of the country was to reduce deaths due to road accidents. Every year around 5 lakh road accidents are reported out of which 1.5 lakh people lose their lives.1
- Under section 134A, the government has inserted a new section for Good Samaritans. The civil or criminal action won’t be taken against Good Samaritan for any injury or death caused to victim met with a road accident, for being negligent in acting or failing to act while rendering emergency medical or non-medical care or assistance.
- Under Section 215B, the central government through notification can create a National Road Safety Board. The Board will help the centre and state government on various aspects of road safety and traffic management.
- Under Section 164B, the Central Government shall constitute a Fund named “Motor Vehicle Accident Fund” for providing compulsory insurance cover to all road users in the territory of India.
- Under section 194F, the central government has imposed fine on needless & continuous honking and honking in an area with traffic sign prohibiting the use of horn.
- Under section 194E, if the motor vehicle rider doesn’t allow free passage to emergency vehicles, then he shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months or with a fine of ten thousand rupees or both,
- Under section 199A, if the offence is committed by a juvenile, then the guardian of such juvenile or owner of a motor vehicle shall be punished under the Act.
- Under section 161, the government has made special provisions as to compensation in case of a hit and run motor accident.
- Under section 162(2), the bill requires the central government to make a scheme for the cashless treatment of victims of an accident during the golden hour. The “golden hour” is defined under section 12(A) of the Act as “the time period lasting one hour following a traumatic injury during which there is the highest likelihood of preventing death by providing prompt medical care.”2
Table differentiating Old and New Penalties :
|Sr No.||Offence||Sections||Old Penalty||New Penalty|
|1.||Rules of road regulation violation||177A||₹100||₹500|
|3.||Disobedience of authorities’ orders||179||₹500||₹2000|
|4.||Allowing unauthorized person to drive vehicle||180||₹1000||₹5000|
|5.||Driving without license||181||₹500||₹5000|
|6.||Driving despite disqualification||182||₹500||₹10,000|
|8.||Over Speeding||183||₹400||₹1000-₹2000(Light motor vehicle)₹2000-₹4000(Medium or High passenger vehicle)|
|9.||Driving dangerously||184||₹1000||1st offence- Imprisonment which may extend to 6 months or fine which may extend to ₹10002nd/Subsequent offence within 3 years of similar previous offence- Imprisonment which may extend to 2 years or fine which may extend to ₹5000, or both|
|12.||Vehicle without permit||192A||Upto ₹5000||Upto ₹10,000|
|13.||Aggregators(Violations of licensing conditions)||193||–||₹10,000|
|14.||Overloading||194||₹2000 and ₹1000 per extra tonne||₹20,000 and ₹2000per extra tonne|
|15.||Overloading of passengers||194A||–||₹1000 per extra passenger|
|17.||Overloading of two-wheelers||194C||₹100||₹2000 Disqualification for 3 months of the license|
|18.||No Helmet||194D||₹100||₹1000 Disqualification for 3 months of the license|
|19.||Not providing a way for emergency vehicles||194E||–||₹10,000|
|20.||Sounds the horn needlessly||194F||₹100||₹1000|
|21.||Driving without insurance||196||₹1000||Rs 1,000-2,000 and/or punishment up to 3 months for the first offence. ₹4000 and/or imprisonment up to 3 months for the second offence|
|22.||Failure to comply with standards for road design, construction, and maintenance||198||–||Upto ₹1 lakh|
|23.||Offences by Juveniles||199||–||Guardian/Owner shall be deemed to be guilty. ₹25,000 with 3 years imprisonment. Vehicle registration cancelled for 12 months. Juvenile ineligible to obtain license till the age of 25 years.|
|24.||Power of offices to impound documents||206||–||Suspension of driving licenses u/s 183, 184, 185, 189, 190, 194C, 194D, 194E|
|25.||Offences committed by enforcing authorities||210B||–||Twice the penalty under the relevant section|
Why is the Government being criticized for implementing such a bill?
1. Hefty Fines
The first and foremost reason being the stiffer penalties that the government has increased to 5-10 times more than in the previous amendment. From the above table, it can be apparently taken note of
2. Enhancing corruption
Another point that is being questioned is about corruption. It is being said that the increase in penalties would lead to an increase in corruption. Managing any amount beyond certain limits becomes difficult for young adults and underprivileged sections of society. And as per the new bill, any fine on violation of traffic rules will be above their basic limits to spend on it. So this might lure the cops to take benefit of such situation or either way. So ultimately corruption prevails.
3. Making guardian responsible for the acts of juvenile
The new provision inserted in the bill states that the guardian shall be held guilty for the offensive acts committed by a juvenile under this Act. The Bombay High Court recently in a judgment held that “Father cannot be presumed to be aware of Son’s surreptitious acts”.3 Though the matter in the said case was not related to the motor vehicle Act, still we can cite this case as a precedent for criticizing the new provision amended in the bill. There is a possibility that the guardian might not always be able to keep attention on all the acts of a child. So this point needs to be noted.
4. Dilution of power of State
There have been concerns regarding dilution of the power of State in terms of granting license and other work.
Most of the states have implemented the Motor Vehicle Bill, 2019 from September 1, 2019. But some of the states like Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, have not enforced the penalties. The central government has implemented the Motor Vehicle (Amendment) Bill, 2019 across the country. And states do not have any discretion over the implementation of the bill. Several questions have been raised even before the implementation of the bill. Several promises have been made by the government as to strictly monitor the actions of the traffic police ensuring that corruption doesn’t prevail. Some of the state governments have also made the laws to impose a double penalty on the traffic police if they are found violating the rules. When the government has increased the fine 5-10 times, then the liability also falls on the government to maintain the standard of the roads. Then in the bill, there has also been National Road Safety Board set up for helping the government on various aspects of road safety. So the question will also be raised on its effectiveness as it has only advisory powers. But if we look at some of the good points in the bill, the implementation of new section of Good Samaritans is actually a good step. As there is enough protection for Good Samaritans, more people will come out to help the victim as they won’t be liable for death or injury caused to the road accident victim while helping them reach for medical assistance. Also, the hefty penalties implementation has set up fear in a person of not violating the traffic rules. The people will become extra cautious when it comes to following the traffic rules and it will eventually lead towards the safety of the lives of people.
1. Overview of Road Accidents in India. Read at prsindia.org
2. The Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 2019
Shlok ShahCo-Founder, Author
Shlok is an enthusiastic and passionate guy who is not afraid of challenges. His love for Messi and Football is endless. Coming to his writing skills, he is a smart writer and loves to deal with contemporary legal issues. He is the most lovable person of team Law Circa. For any clarification, feedback, and advice, you can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org