Explainer: The Motor Vehicle Act Amendment Bill

The government aims to reduce road accidents and fatalities by 50 percent in the next five years with this bill.

Published30 Jul 2018, 12:45 PM IST
India
5 min read
Snapshot

The Motor Vehicle Act of 1988 has not been updated ever since it first came into being. Going by the number of accidents in the latest Road Accidents in India report by the Road Transport and Highways Ministry, there were a total of 4,80,652 accidents in India in 2016 leading to about 1.5 lakh deaths. Given these numbers, the new Motor Vehicle Amendment Bill aims to curb accidents with stiffer penalties.

The new Motor Vehicles Amendment Bill was passed in the Lok Sabha on 10 April. The new bill provides for some pretty steep penalties, and stricter action for traffic violations.

This bill is being discussed in the Rajya Sabha on 31 July, and then the President has to sign off on it for the ageing Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, to be amended with the new regulations towards reducing the number of road accidents in India. The centre has recommended amendments to 68 clauses within the 92 clauses in the 1988 act.

The government aims to reduce accidents and fatalities on road by 50 percent in the next five years with this bill.

Explainer: The Motor Vehicle Act Amendment Bill

  1. 1. What Are The New Laws?

    The bill seeks 68 amendments and insertion of 28 new sections in the Motor Vehicles Act of 1988, including setting up of a National Road Safety Board. Here are the changes and new laws:

    Explainer: The Motor Vehicle Act Amendment Bill
    Explainer: The Motor Vehicle Act Amendment Bill
    • For deaths in hit and run cases, the government will provide a compensation of at least Rs 2 lakh to the kin of the deceased, increasing it from Rs 25,000.
    • In traffic violations by juveniles, the guardians or owner of the vehicle would be 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.
    • Fine for drunk driving to be increased to Rs 10,000 from Rs 2,000
    • The fine for rash driving will be increased from Rs 1,000 to Rs 5,000
    • For driving without license, the fine will be increased from Rs 500 to Rs 5,000
    • Fine for speeding will go up from Rs 400 to up to Rs 2,000
    • The fine for not wearing a seat belt will be Rs 1,000 from the present Rs 100
    • Talking on the phone while driving will attract a fine of Rs 5,000 (up from Rs 1,000)
    • The amendment to the bill also takes care of good citizens. Those who help accident victims will be protected from civil or criminal liability. It is up to them if they want to disclose their identity to the police or medical personnel.
    Expand
  2. 2. Will the Bill Affect Public Transport/Taxi Experience?

    Yes, the bill will improve the public transport experience as the fine for travelling in a public transport without a ticket will be increased to Rs 500, as opposed to Rs 200 at present.

    Another important reform the amendment bill proposes to introduce is related to regulation and recognition of cab aggregators like Uber and Ola.

    Currently, the state transport authorities attach conditions to the permit of these aggregators like the fare rate and maximum number of passengers. Every state has framed its own guidelines for taxis.
    • The bill defines transport aggregators like Uber, Ola and Meru as a digital intermediary or market place for a passenger to connect with a driver for the purpose of transportation. The bill seeks to amend Section 93 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, in order to provide statutory recognition to transport aggregators.
    • Since transport is a state subject, the new bill allows these cab aggregators to obtain licences from state governments.
    • Licensing of cab aggregators is an issue as the central government wants state governments to follow guidelines in this regard. The rule, if implemented, will allow a uniform licence code for cab aggregators across India.
    • Since these cab aggregators use technology as a platform to reach out to customers, the bill also ensures that every such aggregator shall comply with the provisions of the IT Act, 2000.
    • According to the bill, cab aggregators are liable to punishment with fines between Rs 25,000 and Rs 1 lakh for violation of rules.
    • According to a Rajya Sabha committee report, cab aggregators should be held responsible for issues related to safety of women as they are the primary contractor.
    Expand
  3. 3. Why is the Opposition Opposing the Bill?

    Opposition parties, including the Congress, have opposed the proposed amendments to the Motor Vehicles Act in the Rajya Sabha, saying it would help corporates and dilute the powers of the state governments.

    Only three clauses out of the 92 clauses refer to road safety. It looks like it (amendments) is done to help corporates.
    BK Hari Prasad, Congress leader

    The opposition says that the power for registration of vehicles has been given to private dealers. Further alleging that registration charges to be paid to the dealers would be higher than what the RTO charges.

    Trinamool Congress member Manish Gupta was quoted by PTI as saying that the proposed legislation in its current form “subverts the principle of federalism” by giving control of the transport sector to the central government.

    Similarly, BJD's Pratap Keshari Deb said the bill favoured the Centre and, if passed in the current form, it would lead to clashes between central and state governments over various issues.

    Expand
  4. 4. Will it be Easier to Get a Driving License / Insurance?

    The amendments to the Motor Vehicle Act will make it mandatory for getting a driving license and registering your vehicle.

    The time limit for renewal of driving licence will also be increased from one month to one year before and after the expiry date.

    Also, the bill also seeks to take the procedure of obtaining a driving license online. Tests for driving license will be automated and a learner’s license will be issued online.

    Since a driving licence is valid for 20 years or until the age of 50 and 5 years for people more than 50. Under the new bill, the government seeks to create more categories.

    A Motor Vehicle Accident Fund will provide compulsory insurance cover to all road users in India for certain types of accidents. Apart from that, it removes the cap on liability for third-party insurance.

    The 2016 proposal for amendments had suggested a cap of Rs 10 lakh in case of death due to accident and Rs 5 lakh in case of grievous injuries.
    Expand
  5. 5. What are the Do's and Don'ts for Manufacturers?

    The amendments to the Motor Vehicle Act also have some guidelines for automotive manufacturers.

    First, it will be mandatory for manufacturers to alter vehicles to make them suitable for disabled people.

    The bill also gives the government the ability to recall vehicles whose components or engine do not meet the required standards. The fines can go to as much as Rs 500 crore if their products are found to be substandard. The manufacturer will have to reimburse all buyers with the full cost of the vehicle, replace the defective vehicle, and if necessary pay the fine as specified by the government.

    The new bill will also provide for recall of vehicles if the defective vehicle is hazardous to the environment, a danger to the environment, the driver or other road users.

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    Expand

What Are The New Laws?

The bill seeks 68 amendments and insertion of 28 new sections in the Motor Vehicles Act of 1988, including setting up of a National Road Safety Board. Here are the changes and new laws:

Explainer: The Motor Vehicle Act Amendment Bill
Explainer: The Motor Vehicle Act Amendment Bill
  • For deaths in hit and run cases, the government will provide a compensation of at least Rs 2 lakh to the kin of the deceased, increasing it from Rs 25,000.
  • In traffic violations by juveniles, the guardians or owner of the vehicle would be 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.
  • Fine for drunk driving to be increased to Rs 10,000 from Rs 2,000
  • The fine for rash driving will be increased from Rs 1,000 to Rs 5,000
  • For driving without license, the fine will be increased from Rs 500 to Rs 5,000
  • Fine for speeding will go up from Rs 400 to up to Rs 2,000
  • The fine for not wearing a seat belt will be Rs 1,000 from the present Rs 100
  • Talking on the phone while driving will attract a fine of Rs 5,000 (up from Rs 1,000)
  • The amendment to the bill also takes care of good citizens. Those who help accident victims will be protected from civil or criminal liability. It is up to them if they want to disclose their identity to the police or medical personnel.

Will the Bill Affect Public Transport/Taxi Experience?

Yes, the bill will improve the public transport experience as the fine for travelling in a public transport without a ticket will be increased to Rs 500, as opposed to Rs 200 at present.

Another important reform the amendment bill proposes to introduce is related to regulation and recognition of cab aggregators like Uber and Ola.

Currently, the state transport authorities attach conditions to the permit of these aggregators like the fare rate and maximum number of passengers. Every state has framed its own guidelines for taxis.
  • The bill defines transport aggregators like Uber, Ola and Meru as a digital intermediary or market place for a passenger to connect with a driver for the purpose of transportation. The bill seeks to amend Section 93 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, in order to provide statutory recognition to transport aggregators.
  • Since transport is a state subject, the new bill allows these cab aggregators to obtain licences from state governments.
  • Licensing of cab aggregators is an issue as the central government wants state governments to follow guidelines in this regard. The rule, if implemented, will allow a uniform licence code for cab aggregators across India.
  • Since these cab aggregators use technology as a platform to reach out to customers, the bill also ensures that every such aggregator shall comply with the provisions of the IT Act, 2000.
  • According to the bill, cab aggregators are liable to punishment with fines between Rs 25,000 and Rs 1 lakh for violation of rules.
  • According to a Rajya Sabha committee report, cab aggregators should be held responsible for issues related to safety of women as they are the primary contractor.

Why is the Opposition Opposing the Bill?

Opposition parties, including the Congress, have opposed the proposed amendments to the Motor Vehicles Act in the Rajya Sabha, saying it would help corporates and dilute the powers of the state governments.

Only three clauses out of the 92 clauses refer to road safety. It looks like it (amendments) is done to help corporates.
BK Hari Prasad, Congress leader

The opposition says that the power for registration of vehicles has been given to private dealers. Further alleging that registration charges to be paid to the dealers would be higher than what the RTO charges.

Trinamool Congress member Manish Gupta was quoted by PTI as saying that the proposed legislation in its current form “subverts the principle of federalism” by giving control of the transport sector to the central government.

Similarly, BJD's Pratap Keshari Deb said the bill favoured the Centre and, if passed in the current form, it would lead to clashes between central and state governments over various issues.

Will it be Easier to Get a Driving License / Insurance?

The amendments to the Motor Vehicle Act will make it mandatory for getting a driving license and registering your vehicle.

The time limit for renewal of driving licence will also be increased from one month to one year before and after the expiry date.

Also, the bill also seeks to take the procedure of obtaining a driving license online. Tests for driving license will be automated and a learner’s license will be issued online.

Since a driving licence is valid for 20 years or until the age of 50 and 5 years for people more than 50. Under the new bill, the government seeks to create more categories.

A Motor Vehicle Accident Fund will provide compulsory insurance cover to all road users in India for certain types of accidents. Apart from that, it removes the cap on liability for third-party insurance.

The 2016 proposal for amendments had suggested a cap of Rs 10 lakh in case of death due to accident and Rs 5 lakh in case of grievous injuries.

What are the Do's and Don'ts for Manufacturers?

The amendments to the Motor Vehicle Act also have some guidelines for automotive manufacturers.

First, it will be mandatory for manufacturers to alter vehicles to make them suitable for disabled people.

The bill also gives the government the ability to recall vehicles whose components or engine do not meet the required standards. The fines can go to as much as Rs 500 crore if their products are found to be substandard. The manufacturer will have to reimburse all buyers with the full cost of the vehicle, replace the defective vehicle, and if necessary pay the fine as specified by the government.

The new bill will also provide for recall of vehicles if the defective vehicle is hazardous to the environment, a danger to the environment, the driver or other road users.

Liked this story? We'll send you more. Subscribe to The Quint's newsletter and get selected stories delivered to your inbox every day. Click to get started.

The Quint is available on Telegram & WhatsApp too, click to join.

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