Motor Vehicle (Amendment) Act, 2019

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Concerned Ministry: Road Transport and Highway Ministry (MORTH)

Context: The Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2019, that introduces several amendments in the 30-year-old law, was passed by the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha in August 2019.

  1. The Bill seeks to replace the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988
  2. The 2016 Motor Vehicle Amendment Bill was passed by Lok Sabha in 2017 but couldn't be passed in Rajya Sabha as it lacked majority and hence it lapsed.

Need for Amendment

  1. Three Decades-old act is inadequate for current issues
  2. Penalties for violation are quite low
  3. Multiple licenses are held by one person.
  4. Fatal Accidents-According to the road transport and highways ministry, half a million accidents are reported in India every year, in which 150,000 people lose their lives. World Bank estimates that Road Accidents cost about 3% of its GDP
  5. Compliance with International Agreements and standards– Brasilia Declaration on Road Safety (India committed to reduce the number of serious injuries to 50% by 2020); Sustainable Development Goal 3.6- Reduce Road Crash Deaths by 50% by 2020.
  6. Need for Accountability– No provision in the Motor Vehicles Act 1988 to hold contractors liable for defects in construction.

Features of the Bill

The amendments mainly focus on issues relating to

  • improving road safety,
  • citizens' facilitation while dealing with the transport department,
  • strengthening rural transport,
  • last-mile connectivity and public transport,
  • automation and computerization and enabling online services
  1. Higher and Additional Penalties-Towards safety, the law has proposed stiffer penalties for traffic rule violations such as over-speeding, dangerous driving, driving under the influence of alcohol and other offences such as not wearing a helmet or driving without a licence.
    1. The penalty for drunk driving has been increased by five times from ₹2000 to ₹10,000.
    2. Speeding will now attract a fine or ₹5,000 instead of ₹500 earlier.
    3. Not wearing a seat belt or helmet- ₹100 to ₹1000
    4. Not giving way to emergency vehicles such as ambulances will attract a ₹10,000 fine.
  2. New Rules for issuing Driving Licences
    1. Use of Aadhar Mandatory for applying for the driving licence and vehicle registration
    2. Reduction in the validity of driving licence from 20 years to 10 years
  3. Recall for Defective Vehicles
    1. The Bill Mandates voluntary recall by the manufacturer in case of a factory defect.
    2. In case of a defective model sold, complete reimbursement should be made to a buyer
    3. Fine by Government of up to 500 crore
  4. Miscellaneous Provisions
    1. Guardians/owners deemed to be guilty in case of road offences by juveniles
    2. Good Samaritan guidelines have been incorporated in the bill to help accident victims
    3. Driver Licences training process have also been strengthened
    4. Headgear is mandatory for children above 4 years.

Shortcomings of the Bill

  1. It doesn't talk about the enforcement and leaves out loopholes
  2. Concerns have been raised whether increasing fines is the only way possible to deter non-adherence to laws
  3. Issues with infrastructure have yet to be standardised across the countries.
  4. A mismatch between the ground reality and policy-making- Lack of Headgear for children in the market.

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