Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2019 passed in Rajya Sabha: Steep hike in penalties for errant drivers, taxi aggregators to fall under ambit of proposed law

  • The amendment bill will bring a lot of changes in how Indian roads and vehicular transportation are governed

  • The Bill increases penalties for several offences under the Act including the maximum penalty for driving under the influence of alcohol

  • Holding a certificate from a driving school will be enough for a person to apply for a driving licence

The Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2019 was passed by the Lok Sabha on 23 July and subsequently by the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday, awaiting final signatures from the President before it becomes a law replacing the Motor Vehicles Act 1988.

The amendment bill will bring a lot of changes in how Indian roads and vehicular transportation are governed and will ensure more discipline on roads by tightening rules and increasing penalties.

The bill also offers financial protection to good samaritans who help accident victims. It bill proposes cashless treatment for victims in the first hour of a fatal accident; higher penalties for drunk driving and imprisonment and/or penalty for non-compliance with production standards while making vehicles.

Here are some of the things that are set to change with the introduction of The Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2019:

Offences and penalties

The Bill increases penalties for several offences under the Act including the maximum penalty for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs which has been increased from Rs 2,000 to Rs 10,000.

On the other hand, if a vehicle manufacturer fails to comply with motor vehicle standards, the penalty will be a fine of up to Rs 100 crore, or imprisonment of up to one year, or both. Similarly, if a contractor fails to comply with road design standards, the penalty will be a fine of up to Rs 1 lakh. Also, the government has given a provision for increasing the fines mentioned under the Act every year by up to 10 percent.

The minimum fine for drunk driving has been increased from Rs 2,000 to Rs 10,000 whereas, the fine for rash driving has been increased from Rs 1,000 to Rs 5,000.

Driving without a licence will now attract a minimum fine of Rs 5,000 as against Rs 500 at present. And the fine for over-speeding will go up from Rs 400 to Rs 1,000-2,000.

In cases of over-speeding, the driver will be penalised Rs 1,000 for light motor vehicles such as cars and Rs 2,000 for heavier vehicles. If found engaged in racing, the driver will have to pay a penalty of Rs 5,000.

Also, not wearing a seatbelt would attract a fine of Rs 1,000 as against Rs 100 at present and talking on a mobile phone while driving will now attract a fine of Rs 5,000, up from Rs 1,000.

Compensation for road accident victims

Besides cashless treatment of road accident victims during the 'golden hour', the government may also make a scheme for providing interim relief to claimants seeking compensation under third party insurance.

The Bill increases the minimum compensation for hit and run cases as follows:

(i) in case of death, from Rs 25,000 to Rs 2,00,000, and

(ii) in case of grievous injury, from Rs 12,500 to Rs 50,000

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 voluntarily, in good faith, and 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 caused due to their negligence in providing assistance to the victim, the Bill states.

Compulsory insurance

The Bill requires the central government to constitute a Motor Vehicle Accident Fund, to provide compulsory insurance cover to all road users in India. It will be utilised for: (i) treatment of persons injured in road accidents as per the golden hour scheme, (ii) compensation to representatives of a person who died in a hit and run accident, (iii) compensation to a person grievously hurt in a hit and run accident, and (iv) compensation to any other persons as prescribed by the central government.

 Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2019 passed in Rajya Sabha: Steep hike in penalties for errant drivers, taxi aggregators to fall under ambit of proposed law

Representational image. ANI

This Fund will be credited through: (i) payment of a nature notified by the central government, (ii) a grant or loan made by the central government, (iii) balance of the Solatium Fund (existing fund under the Act to provide compensation for hit and run accidents), or (iv) any other source as prescribed the central government.

The Bill also removes the cap on liability for third-party insurance; and a time limit of six months has been specified for an application of compensation to the Claims Tribunal with regard to road accidents.

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. The manufacturer of the recalled vehicle will be required to: (i) reimburse the buyers for the full cost of the vehicle, or (ii) replace the defective vehicle with another vehicle with similar or better specifications.

The government can recall vehicles whose components or engine do not meet the required standards. Manufacturers can be fined up to Rs 500 crore in case of sub-standard components or engine.

Also, it will be mandatory to alter vehicles to make them suitable for specially-abled people.

Traffic violations by juveniles 

In case of traffic violations by juveniles, the guardians or owner of the vehicle would be held responsible unless they prove the offence was committed without their knowledge or they tried to prevent it. The registration of the motor vehicle in question will be cancelled and the juvenile will be tried under the Juvenile Justice Act.

Obtaining a driving license

Under the 1988 law, a person seeking a driving licence must have passed Class 8. This eligibility criterion has been done away in the Bill. Holding a certificate from a driving school will be enough for a person to apply for a driving licence.

Apart from that, the process of applying for a driving license has been digitised and now applicants can fill in their details online to schedule an appointment for the driving test.

A national register of driving licence will be created comprising nationwide licence data to make the transfer of vehicles across states easier and weed out fake licences.  The time limit for renewal of driving licence has also been increased from one month to one year before and after the expiry date.

Cab aggregators

The government start regulating taxi aggregators such as Ola and Uber whom the current Motor Vehicles Act does not recognise as a separate entity. The new Bill will give power to the Centre to frame guidelines for these private companies and make them more compliant.

Other important provisions of the Bill include:

1) Making Aadhaar mandatory for getting a driving licence and vehicle registration

2) Not giving a pass to emergency vehicles will also attract Rs 10,000 as a penalty

3) A penalty of Rs 2,000 if your vehicle's insurance coverage has expired and you are still driving it

4) A national road safety board will be created to advise the central and state governments on all aspects of road safety and traffic management

5) The Centre will also frame national transport policy in consultation with the state governments

With inputs from agencies

Updated Date: Aug 01, 2019 10:44:55 IST