NATIONAL

As Gujarat slashes traffic fines, Centre gears up for a tussle

Costly affiar:Traffic police official challaning motorist for driving with pillion rider without wearing helmet near Rajghat in New Delhi on Saturday.R.V. Moorthy

Costly affiar:Traffic police official challaning motorist for driving with pillion rider without wearing helmet near Rajghat in New Delhi on Saturday.R.V. Moorthy  

The Centre is gearing up for a tussle with the Gujarat government over the recently amended Motor Vehicles (MV) Amendment Act, 2019, which imposes steeper penalties for road traffic violations. The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has sought the Law Ministry’s opinion on whether State governments can tweak the lower limit for fines prescribed in the law after Gujarat slashed some of the fines.

In its notification, Gujarat has imposed fines below the lower limit prescribed in the MV Act and has also altered those fines it is not permitted to change under the Act. Road transport falls in the Concurrent List and, therefore, both Centre and States are allowed to legislate on the subject.

The Gujarat government has imposed a fine of Rs. 500 for not wearing a seatbelt but the Centre has laid down Rs. 1,000 as the penalty, without providing a minimum or maximum limit. Similarly, Gujarat says there is no need to impose a penalty if a pillion rider is not wearing a helmet, and offenders will be required to pay only Rs. 100 as fine if there is more than one pillion rider, but the Centre requires a fine of Rs. 1,000 on the person driving the bike along with disqualification of licence for three months for both these violations.

Concurrent List

“The Constitution is clear on what happens when there is a dispute between a State and the Centre regarding a subject on the Concurrent List,” a senior official of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways said.

Article 254 of the Constitution States that if there is a dispute between a State and the Centre on a provision of law on a matter that falls in the Concurrent List then the law made by the Centre will overrule the State.

“Gujarat is violating Article 254 of the Constitution by touching the non-compoundable offences. This entire change made by Gujarat will be thrown out of the court,” said Piyush Tewari of Save Life Foundation.

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