The Rajya Sabha earlier this month passed the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2019 which seeks to improve road safety, enable corruption-free dealings with the transport departments, strengthen rural mobility, as well as provide efficient public transportation and last-mile connectivity to all citizens through automation, computerization and online services.
Speaking on the occasion Minister of Road Transport & Highways and MSME Nitin Gadkari said that the Bill would not encroach upon the powers and authorities of the states, on the contrary, the Bill would empower the states to provide an efficient, safe and corruption-free transport system in the country.
It is worth mentioning that the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2019 is based on the recommendations of the Group of Transport Ministers (GoM) of States constituted by the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways to examine the issue of road safety and to improve the delivery of services to citizens while dealing with transport departments.
The GoM was headed by Shri. Yoonus Khan, the then Transport Minister of Rajasthan, and had people from different political parties as to its members – including 18 State Transport Ministers. On the basis of their recommendations and other requirements, the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways initially introduced the Motor Vehicle (Amendment) Bill in 2016. This, along with amendments, was passed by Lok Sabha on April 10, 201, and was referred to the Select Committee of Rajya Sabha on Aug 8, 2017. The Select Committee presented its report to the Parliament on December 22, 2017. The Bill was since pending in the Rajya Sabha and lapsed there with the dissolution of the 16th Lok Sabha.
Normally a bill after favorable voting in Lok Sabha goes to the Rajya Sabha and once passed needs the Presidential sanction before it becomes an enforceable Act or law. But here the Bill passed by Rajya Sabha with three amendments and needs to go back to Lok Sabha which had already passed it on July 23, 2019.
Some of the important amendments in the bill include:
The Bill proposes to strictly prohibit traffic violations and increase penalties for offenses like juvenile driving, drunken driving, driving without a license, dangerous driving, over-speeding, overloading, etc. It also lays down strict provisions for helmets and electronic detection of violations. Penalty regarding motor vehicles is to be increased by 10 % every year.
The Bill mandates automated vehicle fitness tests to prevent corruption while improving the roadworthiness of the vehicle. The penalty has been provided for deliberate violation of safety/environmental regulations by bodybuilders and spare part suppliers. The process for testing and certification of automobiles is also 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 a 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, and 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 constitution of a National Road Safety Board, by the central government to 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 of 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. These include a definition of a Good Samaritan as a person who renders emergency medical or non-medical assistance to a victim at the accident scene 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 the golden hour.
The Bill has includes the driver’s attendant in 3rd Party insurance, without any no cap on liability of the insurers. There will be a 10-time increase in insurance compensation, from Rs 50, 000 to Rs 5 lakh. The claim process has been simplified. Insurance firms have to pay claims within a month if the victim’s family agrees 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 for all road users in India. It will be utilized 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 or loan made by the central government, balance of the Solatium Fund (existing fund under the Act to provide compensation for hit and run accidents), or any other source as prescribed the central government.
Improving Services using e-Governance
Improving the delivery of services to the stakeholders using e-Governance is one of the major focus of this Bill. It includes
Provision for online driving licenses
The Bill provides for online Learners License 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 up to five instead of three years. Application for renewal can be made one year prior to or after the license 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 the harmony of the registration and licensing process, it is proposed to create National Register for Driving License and National Register for Vehicle registration through “Vahan” & “Sarathi” platforms. This will facilitate the uniformity of the process across the country.
The driving training process has been strengthened enabling faster issuance of licenses to help in reducing the shortage of commercial drivers in the country. More and more driver training schools and vehicle fitness centers 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 the Transportation System
Development of an 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.
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.
Proposed Amendments of Penalties under Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill – 2019
Old Provision / Penalty
New Provision / Min. Penalty
Rules of road regulation violation
Travel without ticket
Disobedience of orders of authorities
Unauthorized use of vehicles without license
Driving without license
Driving despite disqualification
Rs 1000 for LMVRs 2000 for Medium passenger vehicle
Dangerous driving penalty
Up to Rs 5000
Speeding / Racing
Vehicle without permit
up to Rs 5000
Up to Rs 10,000
Aggregators (violations of licencing conditions)
Rs 25,000 toRs 1,00,000
Rs 2000 andRs 1000 per extra tonne
Rs 20,000 andRs 2000 per extra tonne
Overloading of passengers
Rs 1000 per extra passenger
Overloading of two-wheelers
Rs 2000, Disqualification for 3 months for license
Rs 1000 Disqualification for 3 months for license
Not providing a way for emergency vehicles
Driving Without Insurance
Offenses by Juveniles
Guardian/owner shall be deemed to be guilty. Rs 25,000 with 3 yrs imprisonment. For Juvenile to be tried under the JJ Act. Registration of Motor Vehicle to be canceled
The world’s highest rail bridge is being constructed over river Chenab, in J&K at a cost of $92 million. When completed in 2016 the bridge will be 35 metres taller than Eiffel Tower and five times as high as Qutub Minar. The bridge is expected to be 359 metres (1,177 feet) high, taller than the world’s current tallest railway bridge over the Beipanjiang River in China’s Guizhou province (275 metres). It will be made of 25,000 tonnes of steel transported by helicopters over difficult terrain.