Rajya Sabha Passes Motor Vehicle (Amendment) Bill

The Motor Vehicle (Amendment) Bill has been passed by the Rajya Sabha in the Parliament. The bill has been passed with three government amendments and will have to go back to the Lok Sabha. The Motor Vehicle (Amendment) Bill received 108 Ayes and 13 Noes in the Rajya Sabha today and brings necessary changes and provisions towards road safety in the Motor Vehicles Act of 1988. The amendments were tabled in the Parliament in 2017 and was later sent to the select committee. But it was not cleared by the upper house before being lapsed in the 16th Lok Sabha.

Speaking in the Rajya Sabha about the Motor Vehicle (Amendment) Bill, Minister of Road Transport & Highways and MSME, Nitin Gadkari said that The much needed amendments will improve road safety, facilitate citizens in their dealings with transport departments,strengthen rural transport, public transport and last mile connectivity through automation, computerisation and online services. He also appreciated the efforts of the Tamil Nadu towards road safety with the number of road related deaths down by 29 per cent.

Under the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill 2019, the penalties for several offences has been increased. For instance, the maximum penalty for driving drinking and driving or driving under influence has been increased from Rs 2000 to ₹ 10,000. Similarly, the fine for not wearing a seatbelt or a helmet will go up from ₹ 100 currently to Rs 1,000, while the fine for overspeeding will be raised to Rs 5,000 from the current ₹ 500.

If manufacturers fail to comply with motor vehicle standards, there will be a penalty of up to Rs 100 crore or imprisonment up to one year, or both. Road contractors that fail to design roads according to the new standards will be penalised up to Rs 1 lakh, and the central government may increase fines by up to 10 per cent under the new act.

The bill also caps the maximum liability for third party insurance in case of a motor accident at ₹ 10 lakh in case of death and at Rs 5 lakh in case of grievous injury. The central government will develop a scheme for cashless treatment of road accident victims during golden hour, which has been defined as the time period of up to one hour following a traumatic injury, during which the likelihood of preventing death through prompt medical care is the highest.

The bill defines good samaritans as  a person who helps victims in an accident. It also clarifies that such a person will not be liable for any civil or criminal action for any injury or death of an accident victim due to their negligence in providing assistance to the victim. In addition, the Motor Vehicle (Amendment) Bill recognises app based cab aggregators like Ola and Uber as a digital intermediary or a market place. The state governments will grant licenses to the aggregators based on the new guidelines framed by the central government.

Lastly, the new vehicle registration process will be completely computerised to introduce transparency in the system. The bill also states that the use of Aadhaar number will be mandatory when applying for a new licence. The term of the driving licence has also been reduced from 20 years to 10 years, under the amendment of the bill.