On 18th of June 2018, Mumbai resident Mr Nitin Nair, out of sheer good intentions had offered a lift to few strangers who were stuck in the Mumbai rains. To Mr Nair’s surprise, a local police team soon stopped him and issued him a challan and charged him under Section 66 (1) and Section 192A of the Motor Vehicle Act, 1988.
As the news and Facebook post by Mr Nair explaining his ordeal went viral, multiple online news portals have started spreading the news that it is illegal to give a lift to strangers and that you may be fined for giving a lift to strangers.
So what is the Law?
The Law in question, the Motor Vehicle Act, 1988, does not prohibit you from giving a lift to strangers.
What does the Law say?
Section 66; “Necessity for permits. – (1) No owner of a motor vehicle shall use or permit the use of the vehicle as a transport vehicle in any public place whether or not such vehicle is actually carrying any passengers or goods save in accordance with the conditions of a permit granted or countersigned by a Regional or State Transport Authority or any prescribed authority authorizing him the use of the vehicle in that place in the manner in which the vehicle is being used..”
That is, simply the Section 66 prohibits a motor vehicle from being used as a “transport vehicle”.
Section 2(47) defines “transport vehicle” as;
“transport vehicle” means a public service vehicle, a goods
carriage, an educational institution bus or a private service vehicle”
Section 2(33) defines private service vehicle as;
“private service vehicle” means a motor vehicle constructed or adapted to carry more than six persons excluding the driver and ordinarily used by or on behalf of the owner of such vehicle for the purpose of carrying persons for, or in connection with, his trade or business otherwise than for hire or reward but does not include a motor vehicle used for public purposes;”
Hence Section 66 read with Section 2(47) and Section 2(33) makes it clear that only when a personal vehicle, is used for commercial purpose; that is if the driver/owner of the private vehicle gives lifts to strangers and charges money for the same, it is in violation of the law. Merely giving a lift to strangers out of the goodwill is not a violation of the Law.
So what happened in Mr Nair’s case?
As per Mr Nair’s statement, the police insisted that he plead guilty, explaining that it would make it easier for Mr Nair. The Police had most probably insisted that Mr Nair plead guilty because they were sure they would be unable to prove his guilt otherwise. This was a case of corruption and incompetence, coupled with a mistake on part of Mr Nair’s lawyer friend, because of which Mr Nair had to suffer and not a case of the law being draconian.
So the next time you are on the road and a traffic cop stops you, #KnowThyRights!
Sourya Banerjee – Lance-a-Law