Even as the debate on the hefty fines issued under the new motor vehicles law politicises with Congress staging protest and poll bound BJP ruled states of Maharashtra and Haryana expresisng their displeasure on it, Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari said that the Centre will not modify the bill. Speaking exclusively to Republic, he clarified that those opposing the act is not focussing on the reason for its implementation. Stating that states can modify the act as they want, Gadkari also cautioned them that their move must reduce the road accidents and ensure road safety. "The bill is in concurrent list so the state have the powers. If they think that fines should be reduced they can. If reduction will also result to people obeying laws and will reduce accidents, then they will be applauded. If it doesn't happen, then also they must take the responsibility."
When asked about sole incidences where people are levied hefty fines, gadkari said, "The truck driver who was fined a huge sum was drunk. He did not have a license. So altogether fine was levied. Now despite all this the driver was daring to drive. I think people must understand the reason behind this act." The transport minister also candidly told that he too had to pay the fine under the new law. "I also paid fine because my driver increased the speed limit at Worli-Bandra sealink in Mumbai."
Though the transport minister was unable to come up with ba convincing answer when asked about the corruption that will shoot as a result of the new act, he insisted that all system is computerised in big cities leaving no scope for Corruption. He said small cities will also have these systems in place soon. Gadkari clearly stated that Centre will not make any change whatsoever as the act came up after a lot of planning. "In our country 2.5 lakh people die in road accidents, isn't is shameful? We have 30 percent bogus licenses - these cause accidents. We have implemented this act keeping in mind those innocent people dying due to road accidents. And if people follow the rules there's no point of paying the fine. We are not going to make any changes in the law, if state govts want then they can do it," he added.
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"This bill has come after a committee of 20 ministers and 12 different political parties brainstormed. After their recommendation this bill was sent to the Parliament. It then went to joint selection committee and then standing committee of Rajya Sabha. Every political party supported the bill uniamiously. This bill is not a revenue model. But there is no respect for law and no fear of law. People break the law in front of Police and leave. 100 Rupees fine is there since ages, what is it's value now? Since the implementation of the bill there are long queues outside offices for licence, pollution certificate, fitness certificate, etc. This transformation will instill fear in minds of people regarding the law," transport minister Gadkari said.
Gujarat reduces Motor Vehicles Act fines for first-time offenders
Motor Vehicles Act
The Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2019 was introduced in Lok Sabha on July 15, 2019, by the Minister for Road Transport and Highways, Nitin Gadkari. The Motor Vehicles Amendment Act 2019 was implemented on September 1. It contains 63 provisions that deal with penalties. Below are some of the changes in the traffic rules as per the Amendment:
- Penalty for drunken driving has been increased to 6 months imprisonment and/or Rs 10,000 fine for the first offence.
- Penalty for racing / speeding has been increased to imprisonment of up to 1 month and/or fine up to Rs 500 for first offence.
- Penalty for travelling without helmet has been increased to fine up to Rs 1,000.
- Fine for not wearing seatbelt has been increased from Rs 100 to Rs 1,000.
- Fine for talking on a mobile phone while driving has been increased from Rs 1,000 to Rs 5,000.
- Punishment for juveniles for offences will include Rs 25,000 and imprisonment up to 3 years and cancellation of registration of motor vehicle for 12 months.
- Fine for individuals driving without licence has been increased from up to Rs 500 to Rs 5,000.
- Penalty for travelling without ticket has been increased from up to Rs 200 to Rs 500.
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10 states opposing the move
- GUJARAT: The Gujarat government on Tuesday reduced fine amounts stipulated in the new Motor Vehicles Act passed recently. Making the announcement, Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani said the fines laid down in the new Act were the maximum suggested and his government had reduced them after detailed deliberations. While the new Act stipulated a fine of Rs 1,000 for riding without a helmet, the Gujarat government on Tuesday finalised the amount at Rs 500. Similar is the case with driving a four-wheeler without wearing a seat-belt. Claiming that the Gujarat government was not showing leniency to traffic violators by reducing fines, Rupani pointed out that penalties fixed now are still up to 10 times of that charged before the new Act came into force.
- ODISHA: The Odisha government on Monday relaxed implementation of the new traffic rules for three months. The government also said it would soon consider reducing the fine amounts.
- MAHARASHTRA: Maharashtra Transport minister Diwakar Raote reportedly said that fines in the new Act were "steep" and the government was reviewing.
- KERALA:The ruling CPI(M) and opposition Congress on Sunday came out against the hefty fines imposed for violations under the amended Act. They said that it would put additional burden on the common man.
- MADHYA PRADESH: M.P Chief Minister Kamal Nath said his government will first study the new amendments in the Motor Vehicles Act and then decide. Kamal Nath said he does not agree with the enhanced penalties imposed for violations of traffic rules, as per reports.
- WEST BENGAL: The West Bengal government did not enforced the new penalties stating that they are not on the “same page over the fine,” with the Centre.
- TELANGANA: A committee has been formed by the state government to study the Act and the recommendations of the panel would be sent to the Transport Minister and Chief Minister for approval. Until then, the new set of penalties would not be implemented in the state.
- PUNJAB: For the time being the provisions of the amended Motor Vehicle rules would not be applicable in the state,” Punjab Transport Minister Razia Sultana said.
- PUDUCHERRY: Puducherry Chief Minister V Narayanasamy said the hefty fines will be imposed only after the government first generates awareness among the public on the provisions of the Act.
- CHHATTISGARH: Congress government in Chhattisgarh is also yet to implement the new penalty provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act. “It should not have hefty fines…The state government is examining in which form the act can be implemented. We are also looking at whether the state government can make amendments to it,” Home Minister Tamradhwaj Sahu said.
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