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The Motor Vehicles Act consolidates the law relating to Motor Vehicles i.e. the law relating to the Constitution, use and control of motor vehicles. The Bill seeks to amend the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988. The Act provides for standards for motor vehicles, grant of driving licenses, and penalties for violation of these provisions.
What is the objective of the bill?
This act aims to provide a scientifically planned and evolving framework for the safety of all road users in India, including vulnerable road users, and for enabling the seamless development of a secure, efficient, cost-effective, sustainable and inclusive transport system for the movement of passenger and freight in the country as well as matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.
What are the Salient Features of the Bill?
Formation of National Transportation Policy: The Bill requires the central government to develop a National Transportation Policy, in consultation with the states. It will establish a planning framework for road transport, develop a framework for grant of permits and schemes, and identify and specify priorities for the road transport system.
Recall of vehicles: The Bill allows the central government to order for recall of motor vehicles if a defect in the vehicle may cause damage to the environment, or the driver, or other road users. Vehicles may also be recalled if defects in a vehicle are reported to the central government.
Compulsory insurance: The Bill requires the central government to constitute a Motor Vehicle Accident Fund. The Fund will provide compulsory insurance cover to all road users in India. The Fund will be credited with: a cess or tax, a grant or loan made by the central government, or any other source as prescribed the central government. It will be managed by an authority specified by the central government.
Care for road accident victims: The central government will develop a scheme for cashless treatment of road accident victims during golden hour.
Compensation in Hit and Run case: The Bill also increases the compensation for death in a hit and run case from Rs. 25,000 to Rs 2,00,000 or more, as prescribed by the central government.
Protection of good Samaritans: The Bill defines a good Samaritan as a person who renders emergency medical or non-medical assistance to a victim at the scene of an accident. The assistance must have been (i) in good faith, (ii) voluntary, and (iii) without the expectation of any reward. Such a person will not be liable for any civil or criminal action for any injury to or death of an accident victim. The central government may, through rules, provide for procedures related to their questioning or disclosure of personal information.
Aggregator services: The Bill defines an aggregator as a digital intermediary or market place. The aggregator’s services may be used by a passenger to connect with a driver for transportation purposes. The Bill requires these aggregators to obtain licenses. The aggregators will also be required to comply with the Information Technology Act, 2000.
Electronic services: The Bill provides for the computerization of certain services. These include: (i) issue or grant of licenses or permits, (ii) filing of forms or applications (such as for licenses and registration), (iii) receipt of money (such as fines), and (iv) change of address. The state government must ensure electronic monitoring and enforcement of road safety on national highways, state highways, and urban roads. The central government will make rules for such monitoring.
Strict penalties for offences involving children.
Unified vehicle registration system and registration to be linked with insurance, vehicle offences, and vehicle fitness.
The Bill increases the penalties for several offences under the Act. For example, the maximum penalty for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs has been increased from Rs. 2,000 to Rs. 10,000. If a motor vehicle manufacturer fails to comply with construction or maintenance standards of motor vehicles, the penalty may be a fine of up to Rs. 100 crore, or imprisonment up to one year, or both.
What will the positive outcomes of the bill?
“Epidemic of increasing road accidents in India” which had in 2014 claimed 1.41 lakh lives and left 4.81 lakh people severely injured. “Not only do these accidents cause an irreplaceable loss of human life but they are also responsible for huge economic drain for our country. According to the erstwhile Planning Commission of India, over 3% of India’s GDP is lost to road accidents annually, and this amounted to 3.8 lakh crore rupees in 2014.
A new legislation was the need of the hour, since at present the motorized transport in India is governed by the Motor Vehicle Acts 1988 which was enacted 27 years ago. Since then, deaths caused due to road accidents have increased by over 300% and the road transportation scenario has undergone a sea change.
The Good Samaritan law for providing speedy aid to road accident victims was urgently need. “To accomplish the goal of halving the road crash fatalities, India must bring robust road safety legislation. The current legislation governing road transport in India, Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 is an obsolete legislation that fails to address road safety comprehensively.
India also needs to take urgent steps in this direction to meet the Sustainable Development Goals adopted by the UN general assembly in September 2015, which call for halving the deaths and injuries from road accidents by 2020. Road accidents remain the single largest cause of death among youngsters in the 15-29 age groups, followed by suicide, HIV/AIDS and homicide.