The long-awaited Motor Vehicles Amendment Bill has been presented to the Lok Sabha by Union Minister for Road Transport & Highway, Nitin Gadkari. The bill was first presented in 2016 after consultation with transport ministers from 18 states along with discussions with other standing committees. The act proposes to introduce stricter rules, streamlining the system and a hefty increase in fines and penalties for traffic violations all of which in return would make roads safer. At the time, it was approved by the Lok Sabha, however, it was not passed by the Rajya Sabha after another long evaluation and consideration period.
As a part of the amendments to the bill as proposed by Nitin Gadkari would increase penalties on traffic violations significantly. Changing rules for issuing of driving licenses with a uniformly formatted smart chipped cards across the country and reducing their validity from 20 years to 10 years. Additionally, it will also define taxi aggregators and also recognising app-based services. The amendment bill will also take into consideration of vehicle recalls allowing the central government to recall motor vehicles in certain cases when required.
However, the bill came under fire from members of the parliament who brought up issues with the amendment clauses.
Sougata Roy, TMC MP said “I oppose this bill as it takes away the power of states to provide rural connectivity as a social service instead of profitable routes for operation of such services. This will put the people in rural areas at a disadvantage as private operators refuse to cater to their needs because of low profits”
Other members of the parliament also opposed the provisions that allowing dealers to register the new vehicle if the vehicle is to be registered in the same state which could lead to empowering dealers and that may be against the interest of the public. Along with the clause stating that increasing the time limit to license renewal after expiry from 1 month to one year would lead to drivers driving for a year without a license.
As the states have the right to implement laws for transportation as required, Nitin Gadkari, as a reply to the opposition to the clauses to the bill, said that these provisions will not be binding or mandatory to for all states.
Gadkari addressed the Lok Sabha saying “We do not want to take away power from any state.”
In regards to the opposition of allowing dealers to register the vehicles, Gadkari said that the bill only states that instead of handing over the vehicle to the owner and allowing them to take the vehicle to the RTO, the dealer can get the vehicle already registered and the amount would be credited to the account.
Gadkari concluded his statement requesting the concerned entities to discuss the bill further. Stating that without streamlining the system, 30% of drivers in India carry bogus licenses and India is the easiest country to obtain a driving license around the world and we also report 1.5 lakh fatalities and 5 lakh road accidents a year. He also commended Tamil Nadu for acting towards lowing their rate by 15% last year.