The bill proposes hefty penalties for violation of traffic rules and up to Rs 10 lakh as compensation in case of road fatality. A penalty of Rs 10,000 for drunken driving and Rs 2 lakh compensation for hit-and-run cases is proposed in the proposed law.
Extending their in-principle support to the bill moved by Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari, members like Mallikarjun Kharge (Congress), Saugat Roy and Kalyan Banerjee (both Trinamool) and Mohammad Salim (CPI-M) said they wanted to study the bill properly as it related to improving road safety.
Among other things, the new bill provides for holding a guardian/vehicle owner guilty in case of a road offence by juveniles and cancellation of the vehicle’s registration.
“A detailed discussion has to be done. Nearly 79 clauses are there in the bill. We are very enthusiastic to support all the proposals of the minister (Gadkari) because he is taking some interest to improve road safety. So we do not want to block him. But we should go according to the rules,” Kharge said while supporting Saugat Roy, who opposed the very introduction of the bill.
“We would like to bring amendments to the bill. Let the bill be circulated today (Tuesday). The scrappy work of the (Road Transport) ministry should not be condoned by Parliament,” Roy told Speaker Sumitra Mahajan.
Mahajan, however, allowed its introduction, saying all issues related to the bill could be raised during the debate. “It is only an introduction stage,” she said.
Communist Party of India-Marxist member Salim said he got a copy of the bill only in the morning. “It is a voluminous bill and we require to apply our minds as we are all stakeholders,” he said amid interruptions.
Gadkari said the bill was, in effect, pending for a year and he did not want to delay it further since it related to road safety.
“The bill has been prepared in consultation with 18 state transport ministers, including those of West Bengal and Kerala. If we delay further, it may have to be postponed till the next session as the Rajya Sabha will also need some time,” Gadkari said.
With the chair’s consent, the bill was later introduced in the Lok Sabha.
Later, at a function, Gadkari sought the cooperation of all political parties for the passage of the crucial bill, saying it will go a long way in curbing fatal road accidents in the country.
Officials say India accounted for one of the highest accident rates globally at 5 lakh per annum, in which 1.5 lakh people are killed.
The minister said instead of sending the bill to a joint select committee, he has requested Lok Sabha members to hold discussions and pass it because “priority” should be to save human lives.
The union cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave its nod to the bill on August 3.
In the present Motor Vehicle Act, there are 223 Sections. The bill proposes to amend 68 Sections.