Truckers strike: Home Ministry seeks to pacify truckers protesting new hit-and-run law

All India Motor Transport Congress chairman Kultaran Singh Atwal said that although the transporters body had called off the strike after the meeting with Home Ministry officials, transport bodies in other States would continue with the strike.

January 02, 2024 06:52 pm | Updated January 03, 2024 11:40 am IST - NEW DELHI

Truck drivers protesting against the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, as per which, a driver may face up to 10 years’ imprisonment in a hit-and-run case, in Lucknow on January 2, 2024.

Truck drivers protesting against the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, as per which, a driver may face up to 10 years’ imprisonment in a hit-and-run case, in Lucknow on January 2, 2024. | Photo Credit: Sandeep Saxena

As transporters across the country struck work to protest the increase in punishment in hit-and-run cases in the yet to be implemented Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS), the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) convened a meeting with the All India Motor Transport Congress on January 2.

Transporters, including bus and taxi unions, have called a nationwide strike from January 1 to January 30 to protest Section 106 of the BNS, which prescribes a maximum of punishment of 10 years in cases of rash and negligent driving.

“The government wants to clarify that the new laws have not been implemented yet. We would also like to point out that the decision to invoke Section 106(2) of the Bharatiya Nyay Sanhita will be taken only after consultation with the All India Motor Transport Congress. I appeal to the body and transporters to return to work,” Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla said after the meeting.

Kultaran Singh Atwal, chairman, All India Motor Transport Congress, said the drivers had gone on strike and, as transporters, they were obliged to support the protest.

Mr. Atwal said the government had made empty promises and was only buying time. “The drivers are on strike; it is not the transporters. They [the government] have not given any concrete assurance. Earlier also, our petitions were not heard. In the coming days, you will see shortage of fuel and drivers,” Mr. Atwal said after the meeting with Mr. Bhalla.

He added that although the All India Motor Transport Congress had called off the strike after the meeting, transport bodies in other States would continue with the strike. “It is a drivers’ movement, transporters have little to do with it. Since we are headquartered in Delhi, the Union government called us for a meeting. Let’s see how many drivers turn up for work on Wednesday,” Mr. Atwal said.

A top government source clarified that if a driver had accidentally hit someone and informed the police on time, then he or she would face a lesser punishment of five years. The duration of sentences in such cases had been increased to 10 years because of the observations made by the Supreme Court, another government official said.

“Whenever an accident takes place, the case is always registered against the driver of the heavy vehicle, even though the driver of the small vehicle is at fault. There are chances of being thrashed, and in some instances, drivers have been lynched. Drivers are an unorganised lot, they do not have a leadership. Since this impacts them the most, they have gone on a strike,” Mr. Atwal told The Hindu.

He added that the impact of the strike was being felt all over the country, specially in the northern States of Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Haryana, and Madhya Pradesh, and also in West Bengal, Odisha, and in the southern States.

“There are instances when someone who has caused an accident flees the scene for fear of being attacked by a crowd. In such cases, the person can move away from the scene of crime and call the police. If one calls the police, then they will escape harsh punishment,” the source said.

Section 106(1) of the BNS provides for a punishment of “0-5 years”, while Section 106(2) provides for a punishment of “0-10 years” in “hit and run” cases.

“”The Supreme Court has stated in multiple cases that strict action should be taken against those drivers who recklessly drive vehicles, cause accidents resulting in someone’s death, and then flee the scene. If a person immediately reports to a police officer or magistrate about the accident caused by reckless driving, the individual will not be charged under subsection 106(2). Instead, the person will be charged under Section 106(1), where the sentence is lesser, that is, up to five years, and is a bailable offence. Section 106(2) is a non-bailable offence,” the other government official said.

Also Read | Fuel stations in Hyderabad go dry as motorists queue up

The amended Section 106(1) of the Sanhita says: “Whoever causes death of any person by doing any rash or negligent act not amounting to culpable homicide, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to five years, and shall also be liable to fine; and if such act is done by a registered medical practitioner while performing medical procedure, he shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, and shall also be liable to fine.”

Section 106(2) of the Sanhita says: “Whoever causes death of any person by rash and negligent driving of vehicle not amounting to culpable homicide, and escapes without reporting it to a police officer or a Magistrate soon after the incident, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description of a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.”

Currently, under Section 304A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), which will be replaced by the Sanhita, the punishment for causing death by negligence is two years imprisonment and fine, or both.

0 / 0
Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in

Comments

Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.