The Motor Vehicle (Amendment) Bill 2016 was introduced in the Lok Sabha today by the Union Minister, Shri Nitin Gadkari. The Bill was introduced on the basis of recommendations of the Group of Ministers (GoM) headed by the Union Minister, Shri Nitin Gadkari. A total of 18 Transport Ministers representing different States participated in these meetings and submitted three interim reports.
Following the demise of Union Cabinet Minister, Shri Gopinath Munde in a road accident on June 03, 2014, the Government had promised to bring a stronger road safety legislation by replacing the MVA and had drafted a bill.
SaveLIFE Foudation has listed down the Key Features of the new Amendment Bill:
Safety of children during commute
Existing: There are no provisions which protect children during commute.
Proposed: Section 129 of the Amendment Bill proposes that every child above the age of four years being carried on a motorcycle must wear a helmet, the design and specifications of which may be prescribed by the Central Government. Section 194B makes it mandatory for every child to be secured by a safety belt or a child-restraint system. Non-compliance of the provision by a parent/guardian would be punishable with Rs. 1000.
Analysis: At present the MVA does not have any prescribed provisions for the safety of children during commute. These proposed amendments specify child safety elements within the framework of the Motor Vehicle Act.
Vehicle Recall Policy Existing:
There is no existing provision which mandates a recall policy for vehicles.
Proposed: Through the insertion of new section 110A, the Central Government may by order direct the manufacturer to recall vehicles, in case of defects which may cause harm to the environment or the vehicle’s occupants or other road users and in case of defect reported by such percentage of owners or testing agencies. The manufacturer whose vehicles were recalled shall be liable to reimburse the buyer for the full cost of the motor vehicle or replace the motor vehicle with another vehicle which complies the standards specified under this Act and be liable to pay fines as specified.
Analysis: Legislating for a recall policy in the principal Act will ensure improvement in vehicle standards by providing for an accountability framework.
Electronic monitoring and enforcement of road safety
Existing: There are no provisions for electronic enforcement for road safety.
Proposed: The insertion of new Section 136A puts the responsibility on the Central Government to make rules for the electronic monitoring and enforcement of road safety. State Governments shall ensure the implementation of the same.
Analysis: Legislating the establishment of robust electronic enforcement for traffic violations will result in reduction in human intervention and the associated corruption. A robust electronic enforcement system including speed cameras, closed-circuit televisions cameras, speed guns and such other technology will ensure violations being captured at a greater scale.
Safety of Pedestrians and Non-motorised Transport
Existing: Under the Chapter titled “Control of Traffic”, Section 138 gives power to the State Governments to make rules for a number of specified matters that are in control of the State Government. For e.g., 138 (2) (h) prohibiting the use of foot-paths or pavements by motor vehicles.
Proposed: Amendment to Section 138 of MVA proposes the insertion of new sub-section (1A), which gives the Power to State Governments to regulate the activities of pedestrians and non-motorised road users in a public place.
Analysis: The amendment proposes States to regulate the activities of pedestrians and non-motorised road users. The State Governments will make rules in their respective State Motor Vehicle Rules specifying the manner of regulating the activities of pedestrians and non-motorised road users. These activities would include designated special zones for Vulnerable Road Users (VRUs) such as children, pedestrians, special lanes for NMTs such as cyclists.
Unified Driver Licensing System and Vehicle Registration System
Existing: Currently, there are provisions for the maintenance of State Registers of Driving Licences and Motor Vehicles.
Proposed: The Bill proposes for insertion of Section 25A & 62B, which provides for the Central Government to maintain a National Register for Driving Licences and National Register for Vehicle Registration, in addition to State Registers, for uniformity across the country. On a date notified by the Central Government, State Registers are to be subsumed within National Registers.
Analysis: Under the existing Act, the lack of a centralized database of all licences and motor vehicles across India led to a situation where a person may have multiple licences from different States. Also, there was no reliable data of motor vehicles and maintenance of the State Registers differed across States. The National Registers will be real-time computerized database which can result in uniformity in data collection and a single license for one driver.
Compensation in hit-and-run cases
Existing: The compensation for hit-and-run cases is currently Rs. 12,500/- in cases of grievous hurt and Rs. 25,000/- in cases of death.
Proposed: The proposed amendment to Section 161 of the Act is slated to increase the compensation in cases of grievous injury to Rs. 50,000 or higher and to Rs. 2 lakh or higher in cases of death.
Analysis: In 2015, there were 57,083 cases of hit-and-run accidents resulting in 20,709 deaths . In view of the high number of hit-and-run cases in India, the increased compensation will enable immediate monetary assistance to the victim/victim families.
Offences by Juveniles
Existing: Under the current Act, allowing unauthorized persons to drive a vehicle invites a penalty of Rs. 1000/- and/or imprisonment of up to three months. Occasionally, provisions of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) are invoked in cases involving death or injury, such as Section 109 (Abetment) of the IPC read with either Section 304 II/Section 304A in case of death or Section 337-339 of the IPC in case of injury.
Proposed: The amendment Bill under Section 199A proposes penalties to the guardian/ owner of the vehicle for offences committed by Juveniles. The guardian or owner of the vehicle shall be guilty with a fine of Rs. 25000/- and/or imprisonment of up to 3 years, while the Juvenile will be tried under JJ Act. Additionally, the registration of said motor vehicle will be canceled. The burden of proof shall lie on the guardian/ owner.
Analysis: According to official figures, there were 0.60 lakh accidents caused by underage drivers between the years 2012 and 2014. While in the existing Act, the penalty is for allowing “unauthorized persons” to drive vehicles, the amendment proposes to specify “juveniles”. The penalties for the same have been increased with a 25x increase in the fine and a 12x increase in the period of imprisonment. In addition to the increased fines, registration of the vehicle being canceled can ensure that guardians do not allow their juveniles to drive their vehicle.
Incorporation of Good Samaritan Guidelines
Existing: There is an existing Supreme Court judgment in SaveLIFE Foundation v. Union of India that has made the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways binding across all States and UTs under Articles 141 and 142 of the Constitution and given “force of law”.
Proposed: A new section 134A has been inserted to protect Good Samaritans, who come to the help of road accident victims, from any criminal or civil liability in pursuance of the Act. The proposed section also provides for the Central Government to make rules for procedure for examination of Good Samaritan.
Analysis: With this amendment, the guidelines will receive legislative backing as they will be enacted by the Parliament. A Good Samaritan will not be held criminally or civilly liable for helping an accident victim.
Increase in validity period of licence, use of technology, online issue of learners’ licence
Existing: There are currently no provisions in the Act for the use of technology for the issue of learners’ licences. Also, the renewal of a permanent licence is conducted every 5 years after the age of 50 as opposed to every 10 years before the age of 50.
Proposed: The proposed amendment for online issue of learners’ licence is to simplify the procedure prior to application for a permanent licence. The renewal of a licence under the proposed amendment to section 14 will continue to be every ten years until the person attains the age of 55, wherein the renewal will be every 5 years.
Analysis: The online issue of learners’ licence will simplify the application process for grant of licence.
Penalty Multiplier (Power of the State Governments to increase penalties)
Existing: There is currently no provision for State Governments having power to multiply given penalties.
Proposed: The proposed new section 210A gives power to the State Governments to specify a “multiplier” (not less than one and not greater than ten) to be applied to each fine.
Analysis: This means that State Governments have the power to increase fines in their jurisdiction by up to ten times the amount specified in the Act. For eg., the proposed fine for overspeeding is Rs. 1000. State Governments can levy a fine of up to Rs. 10,000 and not less than Rs. 1000 for overspeeding in the respective State.
Automated Fitness Testing
Existing: Fitness testing for transport vehicles is specified under Section 56 of the Act wherein testing equipment has been referred to.
Proposed: The Bill proposes automated fitness testing for transport vehicles with effect from 1st October, 2018
Analysis: The automated fitness testing for transport vehicles is proposed to be amended by amending Section 56 of the Act. Such amendment may specify ‘testing process’ and insert the word ‘automated testing station’. Automation in fitness testing will eliminate corruption in obtaining a fitness certificate for transport vehicles and simplify periodic testing.
Improving parking facilities for taxis and transport vehicles in urban areas
Existing: The existing Section 117 of the principal Act provides for the State Governments, in consultation with local authorities, to determine the places at which a motor vehicle may stop or be parked indefinitely or a specified amount of time, and also determine the places where a public service vehicle may stop for a period longer than it takes for setting down of passengers.
Proposed: The amendment to section 117 provides for the State Government to give primacy to the safety of road users in determining such places.
Analysis: Stationary vehicles killed 4124 people in 2015. The amendment to section 4 117 can ensure that vehicles do not park in unauthorized areas. The amended section can ensure that transport vehicles are not left stationary on National Highways.
Periodic renewal of driving licence
Existing: The existing Section 14 of the principal Act provides for (i)The licence of a transport driver is currently valid for a period of three years; (ii) The licence to drive a transport vehicle carrying hazardous goods is currently valid for a period of one year; (iii) The licence of any other driver is currently renewed every twenty years until the person attains the age of 50. After attaining the age of fifty, a licence is valid for a period of five years.
Proposed: The amendment proposes the following changes for each of the points mentioned above: (i) For licences of transport drivers, the renewal period is proposed to be increased to five years from the existing three years; (ii) For licences of transport drivers carrying hazardous goods, the renewal thereof shall be subject to such conditions as may be prescribed by the Central Government (iii) For all other licences, if the person attains the age of fifty years but not seventy years, the licence is proposed to be renewed every ten years. After attaining the age of seventy years, the licence is proposed to be renewed every five years.
Analysis: At present, a transport driver carrying hazardous goods has to currently undergo a one-day refresher course for a validity period of one year. The proposed amendment is increasing the validity period to three years while giving the power to the Central Government to prescribe a training course. In view of increasing the renewal period for driving licences of transport drivers carrying hazardous goods, it is imperative that the driver undergo an advanced specialized training programme instead of a one-day refresher course.
Penalties for offenses have been enhanced including those related to risk factors like drink driving, overspeeding, helmets, seat belts, etc. 12 new sections have been inserted as penalties which are not a part of the existing Act. These include:
1. Section 177A: Violation of the Rules of the Road Regulation
2. Section 192B: Failure to apply for registration
3. Section 182B: Oversized Vehicles
4. Section 194A: Carriage of excess passengers
5. Section 194B: Seatbelt
6. Section 194C: Overloading of two-wheelers
7. Section 194D: Penalty for failure to wear headgear
8. Section 194E: Not providing way for emergency vehicles
9. Section 194F: Use of horns in silence zones
10.Section 199A: Offences by juveniles
11.Section 210A: Power of State Governments to increase penalties
12.Section 210B: Offences committed by enforcing authorities
Key factors not covered in the Amendment Bill
SaveLIFE Foundation proposes that the following critical factors be incorporated in the Bill.
Scientific Investigation of Accidents and Data Collection
Existing: Currently, accidents are not investigated scientifically and the data is derived from the First Information Report (FIR) prepared by the Police leading to underreporting of accidents.
Proposed: Through the amendment to Section 135, the Central Government may make schemes to conduct in-depth studies on the causes and analysis of road accidents.
Analysis: At present, State Governments have the power to make schemes to conduct in-depth studies on road accidents. Through the proposed amendment to Section 135, the Central Government can establish a uniform mechanism to investigate road accidents scientifically and collect data in a rigorous manner. Currently, the existing Accident Information Report (Form 54) is inadequate to conduct a scientific investigation. Under this section, the Central Government can introduce a detailed form, which will help in ascertaining the right cause of the accident. The inclusion of it in the principal Act will ensure that adequate rules are indeed framed by the Central Government.
Faulty Road Design and Engineering
Existing: There is currently no provision which holds road contractors and civic agencies accountable for faulty road design and non-maintenance of roads leading to accidents.
Proposed: There are no proposed amendments to address this issue.
Analysis: The insertion of a section to penalize contractors for faulty road design and engineering will ensure an accountability framework besides improving the quality of the roads. Currently, contractors get away with faulty roads as there is no accountability framework in place.
Mandatory Driver Training for all drivers
Existing: There are no current provisions which specify mandatory training of drivers.
Proposed: Section 12 is proposed to be amended to allow applicants who have obtained specialized training devised by Central Government from accredited schools to drive without being required to meet other requirements. The curriculum for the training module will be prescribed by the Central Government and the latter may make rules for the regulation of such schools.
Analysis: Accreditation and regulation of schools are crucial to ensure that the drivers who require specialized training receive it in a proper and regulatory manner. However, the Bill fails to specify mandatory driver training for drivers other than transport drivers nor does it mandate the use of automation for the test of competence at the Regional Transport Offices.