On July 23rd, Lok Sabha passed the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill 2019 during the budget session of parliament. Speaker Om Birla declared the bill passed, based on a voice vote in the house.
The Bill, tabled by Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari, seeks to amend the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988. It introduces stringent norms for acquiring a driving license, and strict penalties for traffic violations, in an effort to reduce road mishaps and deaths in the country.
Once the Bill is considered and passed by the Rajya Sabha, and signed by the President, it would become law.
Here are the notable amendments proposed in the Bill.
Educational qualification unnecessary to own driving license
- The amendment proposes removing the requirement for minimum educational qualification to own a driving license, as long as the applicant holds a certificate from a driving school. Currently, as per Rule 8 of the Central Motor Vehicle Rules, 1989, only a person who has completed Class VIII can hold a license.
- Drivers may be asked to undergo a ‘driving refresher training course’ for reviving their licenses once these are suspended/revoked.
Licensing of cab aggregators
- The Bill suggests regulating the licenses of cab aggregators such as Uber and Ola. Once the Bill becomes law, it will lay down guidelines for aggregators.
- During the budget session, Gadkari said two-wheeler taxis might become a reality as these would help people living in villages and tehsils. However, the Bill does not mention two-wheeler taxis.
Change in license renewal rules
Community service as punishment
- Punishment in the form of of community service can be imposed for traffic violations. A newly-proposed section defines community service as “unpaid work which a person is required to perform as a punishment for an offence.”
Protection of Good Samaritans
- The Bill empowers central government to make rules to protect Good Samaritans (any person who renders emergency care at an accident scene) from unnecessary harassment from civil or criminal proceedings.
Recall of defective vehicles and components
- The centre can direct manufacturers to recall their vehicles or components if defects are reported by a percentage of users, a testing agency or other sources.
Liability of contractors for faulty road design
- Contractors, concessionaires or authorities will be held responsible if their failure to follow prescribed road design and standards result in injury or death. Currently there is no such provision.
Liability of guardians in case of accidents by juveniles
- If a juvenile causes an accident, liability would entirely be on the guardian or the owner of the vehicle.
Compensation increased in hit-and-run cases
- The compensation for victims of hit-and-run cases has been enhanced from Rs 25,000 to Rs 2 lakh in case of death, and from Rs 12,500 to Rs 50,000 in case of bodily injuries.
Limited liability in no-fault cases
- The maximum compensation a claimant can get from the government on no-fault basis is Rs 5 lakh in cases of death, and Rs 2.5 lakh in cases of grievous hurt. ‘No-fault victims’ are those who are killed in hit-and-run accidents in which the killer vehicle was not identified.
Insurance cover for road users, cashless treatment in golden hour
- The bill seeks to introduce a Motor Vehicle Accident Fund that provides compulsory insurance cover to all road users and compensation for victims of hit-and-run and other accident cases.
- Central government will have a scheme for cashless treatment of accident victims during the golden hour, i.e., the first hour of a traumatic injury.
Time limit for filing insurance claims for accidents
- The claim petition has to be filed within six months of the date of accident.
- On the death of the injured person, irrespective of the cause of the death, the right to claim compensation will pass on to his legal representative (the person who represents the estate of the deceased).
National Transport Policy
- The bills seeks to develop a National transport Policy, that would allow the centre to establish a framework to grant transport permits.
- The bill also empowers the centre to make schemes for national, multi-nodal and inter-state transportation of goods and passengers.
Road Safety Board
- A Road Safety Board will be constituted to advise states on matters related to road safety.
Stringent penalties for road traffic violations
- The penalties have been increased to ensure that violators think twice before breaking a rule. Following are the changes in the fines collected for each offence.
|Section in MV Act
|Rules of road regulations (on traffic signals, overtaking etc)
|Travelling without ticket
|Unauthorised use of vehicle without license
|Driving without license
|Disobedience of orders of authorities
|Drink and drive
|Speeding or racing
|Vehicle without permit
|Disqualified person driving
|No seat belt
|Not giving way for emergency vehicles
|Rs 1000 for LMV and Rs 2000 for Medium Passenger Vehicles
|Driving without insurance
|Offences by juveniles
|Rs 25,000 with three years imprisonment
|Aggregators (Violation of licensing conditions)
|Rs 25,000 to Rs 1,00,000
|Overloading in goods vehicles
|Rs 20,000; Rs 2000 per extra tonne
|Overloading of passengers
|Rs 1000 per extra passenger
|Overloading of two-wheelers
|Rs 2000 + Disqualification of licence for three months