Rajya Sabha passes Motor Vehicle Bill; stricter penalities for traffic violations

Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari speaks in the Rajya Sabha on July 31, 2019. Photo: RSTV  

Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari on Wednesday asserted in the Rajya Sabha that the Motor Vehicle (Amendment) Bill, 2019 did not in anyway infringe on the rights of State governments. The Rajya Sabha cleared the Bill.

The legislation seeks to improve road safety through multifold increase in penalities for traffic violations. It also aims to streamline the licensing and road permit process. It has already been passed in the Lok Sabha, but the government has introduced two new amendments and it will need to return to the Lower House again.

Maximum accidents

Introducing the Bill, Mr. Gadkari said maximum road accidents in the world occurred in India. He said five lakh road accidents take place in the country, in which there were 1.5 lakh deaths and 65% of them were youth.

He lauded the Tamil Nadu government as road accidents were down by 29% in the State. He said the Centre would emulate the Tamil Nadu model across the country. Mr Gadkari told the House that the Bill was not a political one and should be cleared.

Opposition’s charge

The Opposition criticised the Bill on two issues — increased privatisation of the transport sector, from registering of vehicles by auto dealers to driving schools, and infringement of rights of States.

The Minister clarified that there was no plan to shut down any of the State transport corporations. Seventeen lakh passenger buses were running in the country of which only 1.70 lakh were State-run buses.

“We do not have any plan to take over the State’s rights in anyway,” Mr. Gadkari asserted. He said road engineering was far more responsible for accidents not drivers alone.

Road safety

Earlier joining the debate, B.K. Hariprasad, Congress MP from Karnataka, said that out of the 92 clauses in the Bill, only five speak of road safety. “I admit that there is corruption in the Regional Transport Offices but you are handing it over to the dealers. The issue of tax collection should be with the government and not with private bodies,” he said.

CPI(M) member Elamaram Kareem said the Bill was a step in the direction to encroach on State governments’ powers. RJD MP Manoj Jha also made a similar point saying that the Bill dishonoured the idea of federalism. DMK MP M. Shanmugam said road accidents could not be reduced by amending the Motor Vehicle Act. “Will road accidents reduce by empowering auto dealers to register vehicles? Will accidents come down by privatising State road transport corporations? Will allowing aggregators like Ola and Uber curb accidents,” he asked.

Sushil Kumar Gupta of the AAP said the only entities to benefit from the Motor Vehicles Bill, 2019 would be the insurance companies. “A person severely injured in an accident is given only six months window for applying for compensation. This is inhumane,” he said.

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Printable version | Apr 15, 2021 5:41:03 AM |

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