The Lok Sabha on Monday cleared amendments to the motor vehicles law that will substantially increase the penalty for traffic violations, allow learner’s driving licences to be issued online and penalise contractors for faulty road designs.
Driving without a licence may soon lead to a minimum fine of ₹5,000 as against ₹500 at present, according to the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill 2016. Similarly, for over-speeding, the penalty may go up to ₹1,000-2,000 from ₹400. Not wearing seatbelts would result in a minimum penalty of ₹1,000 against ₹100 at present.
The traffic violation penalties will also increase 10% each year once the Bill becomes a law. To become a law, the Bill, which will amend the Motor Vehicles Act 1988, must be passed in the Rajya Sabha, followed by President Pranab Mukherjee’s consent.
The Bill was passed in the Lok Sabha by voice vote after various opposition amendments were rejected. An amendment moved by a CPI(M) member on enhancing the compensation in case of accidents was defeated by 37 votes in favour and 221 against.
The proposed law will also allow citizens to apply or renew a driving licence from any road transport office in the State. At present, citizens can only apply at the closest RTO.
The Centre also plans to make submission of Aadhaar number mandatory for applying for a driving licence and vehicle registration by making an enabling provision in the Bill.
Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari said in the Lok Sabha during the discussion on the Bill that “no bogus driving licences would be made and there would be no theft of the vehicles once there is e-governance.”
The time limit for renewal of driving licence is proposed to be increased from one month to one year before and after the expiry date of the licence. However, if the application for driving licence renewal is made a year after its expiry, the applicant will have to undergo a driving test to get the licence. At present, a driving test is conducted only when a citizen applies for renewal of her licence five years after its expiry.
According to another proposal, contractors will have to pay ₹1 lakh as penalty if the faulty road design results in death or disability of a commuter. The penalty amount will go towards a new Motor Vehicles Accident Fund which will be used to treat persons injured in road accidents. Auto makers will have to pay a fine of up to ₹100 crore for “alteration or retrofitting” in vehicles that may be “detrimental to the environment as well as for pedestrians and commuters.”