DISCUSS THE IMPORTANCE OF THE CONSTITUTION (108TH) AMENDMENT BILL TO RESERVE FOR WOMEN ONE-THIRD OF SEATS IN PARLIAMENT AND THE STATE LEGISLATURES AND WHY IS THERE OPPOSITION TO PASSING THIS BILL?
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September 14, 2019

The News

  • The steep penalties for violation of road rules that came into force on September 1 under the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 2019 have produced a backlash, with several State governments opting to reduce the quantum of fines, or even to reject the new provisions.
  • Gujarat has announced a substantial reduction in the fines, West Bengal has refused to adopt the higher penalties, Karnataka and Kerala are studying the prospects to make the provisions less stringent, and others are proceeding with caution.
  • Motorists have reacted with outrage at the imposition of fines by the police, obviously upset at State governments pursuing enforcement without upgrading road infrastructure and making administrative arrangements for issue of transport documents.

BACKGROUND

  1. India has some of the deadliest roads in the world, and 1,47,913 people died in road accidents only during 2017.
  2. The question that has arisen is whether enhanced fines can radically change this record when other determinants, beginning with administrative reform, remain untouched.
  3. The core of reform lies in Section 198(A) of the amended law, which requires any designated authority, contractor, consultant or concessionaire responsible for design or construction or maintenance of the safety standards of the road to meet those laid down by the Central government.
  4. This provision, which prescribes a penalty for a violation leading to death or disability, can be enforced through litigation by road users in all States.
  5. Until infrastructure meets legal requirements, fines and enforcement action are naturally liable to be challenged in courts; the condition of roads, traffic signals, signage and cautionary markings which affect motorists, cyclists and pedestrians, would all fall within its ambit.
  6. State governments also cannot escape responsibility for failing to reform their Regional Transport Authorities, since these offices are generally steeped in corruption.

The Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2019

Road Safety

In the area of road safety, the Bill proposes to increase penalties to act as deterrent against traffic violations. Stricter provisions are being proposed in respect of offences like juvenile driving, drunken driving, driving without licence, dangerous driving, over-speeding, overloading etc. Stricter provisions for helmets have been introduced along with provisions for electronic detection of violations. Penalty regarding motor vehicles is to be increased by 10 % every year.

Vehicle Fitness

The Bill mandates automated fitness testing for vehicles. This would reduce corruption in the transport department while improving the road worthiness of the vehicle. Penalty has been provided for deliberate violation of safety/environmental regulations as well as body builders and spare part suppliers. The process for testing and certification for automobiles is proposed to be regulated more effectively. The testing agencies issuing automobile approvals have been brought under the ambit of the Act and standards will be set for motor vehicle testing institutes.The Bill also provides for compulsory recall of defective vehicles and power to examine irregularities of vehicle companies.

Recall of Vehicles

The Bill allows the central government to order for recall of motor vehicles if a defect in the vehicle may cause damage to the environment, or the driver, or other road users. The manufacturer of the recalled vehicle will be required to: (i) reimburse the buyers for the full cost of the vehicle, or (ii) replace the defective vehicle with another vehicle with similar or better specifications.
Road Safety Board The Bill provides for a National Road Safety Board, to be created by the central government through a notification. The Board will advise the central and state governments on all aspects of road safety and traffic management including standards of motor vehicles, registration and licensing of vehicles, standards for road safety, and promotion of new vehicle technology.

Protection of Good Samaritan

To help road accident victims, Good Samaritan guidelines have been incorporated in the Bill. The Bill defines a Good Samaritan as a person who renders emergency medical or non-medical assistance to a victim at the scene of an accident, and provides rules to prevent harassment of such a person.

Cashless Treatment during Golden Hour The Bill provides for a scheme for cashless treatment of road accident victims during golden hour.

Third Party Insurance

The Bill has included the driver’s attendant in 3rd Party insurance. re will be no cap on liability of insurers. There will be a 10 time increase in insurance compensation, from Rs 50, 000 to Rs 5 lakh. Claim process has been simplified. Insurance firms have to pay claims within a month, if the victim’s family agree to accept Rs 5 lakh compensation. The Bill also increases the minimum compensation for hit and run cases from Rs 25,000 to two lakh rupees in case of death, and from Rs 12,500 to Rs 50,000 in case of grievous injury.

Motor Vehicle Accident Fund

The Bill requires the central government to constitute a Motor Vehicle Accident Fund, to provide compulsory insurance cover to all road users in India. It will be utilised for: treatment of persons injured in road accidents as per the golden hour scheme, compensation to representatives of a person who died in a hit and run accident, compensation to a person grievously hurt in a hit and run accident, and compensation to any other persons as prescribed by the central government. This Fund will be credited through:
payment of a nature notified by the central government, a grant orloan made by the central government, balance of the Solatium Fund(existing fund under the Act to provide compensation for hit and runaccidents),or any other source as prescribed the central government.Improving Services using e-GovernanceImproving delivery of services to the stakeholders using e-Governance is one of the major focuses of this Bill. This includes

Provision for online driving licenses.

The Bill provides for online Learners Licence with mandatory online identity verification Driving test will be computerized to avoid fake D.L. The Bill will bring transparency in RTO offices. Commercial licenses will be valid upto five instead of three years. Application for renewal can be made one year prior to or after licence lapses. Driver Training Schools will be opened so that more efficient drivers may be available.

Process of Vehicle Registration

To improve the registration process for new vehicles, registration at the end of the dealer is being enabled and restrictions have been imposed on temporary registration. The Minister has however said that state transport departments can inspect the vehicles at dealers end . To bring harmony of the registration and licensing process, it is proposed to create National Register for Driving Licence and National Register for Vehicle registration through “Vahan” & “Sarathi” platforms. This will facilitate uniformity of the process across the country.

Drivers Training

The driving training process has been strengthened enabling faster issuance of transport licenses. This will help in reducing the shortage of commercial drivers in the country. More and more drivers training schools and vehicle fitness centres will be opened To facilitate transport solutions for Divyang, the bottlenecks have been removed in respect of grant of driving licenses as well as alterations in the vehicles to make it fit for their use .

Reforms in Transportation System Development of integrated Transport System will be possible from the National Transportation Policy. This will also enhance the powers of the State Governments, provide better last mile connectivity, rural transport etc.
Taxi aggregators: The Bill defines aggregators as digital intermediaries or market places which can be used by passengers to connect with a driver for transportation purposes (taxi services). The Bill provides guidelines for Aggregators. At present there are no rules in many states for regulating aggregators, taxis etc.

WAY FORWARD:

  • The Transport Ministry should make electronic delivery of RTO services mandatory.
  • National Road Safety Board should be formed to recommend important changes to infrastructure and to enable professional accident investigation.
  • Since the standards are laid down, compliance should be ensured without waiting for a road accident to prove it.

ting a necessary vice.

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