The Motor Vehicle (Amendment) Act, 2019: Need for Amendment; Key Features; Pros and Cons
NEED FOR AMENDMENT OF MOTOR VEHICLE ACT 1988:
- As per a WHO report in 2018, the highest number of road accidents occur in India. Even China is behind India in this regard.
- As per a report of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways published in 2017, there are approximately 4.64 lakh road accidents in India every year, in which about 1.47 lakh people are killed every year.
- Around 1.49 lakh people died in 2018 due to road accidents. Uttar Pradesh registering the maximum fatalities.
Therefore, in order to prevent fatalities and casualties due to road accidents; the central government has amended the Motor Vehicle 1988 by promulgating the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill 2019. The amendments have come into effect from September 1, 2019.
KEY FEATURES OF THE AMENDMENT BILL:
- Compensation for road accident victims: The government aims to institute a scheme for cashless treatment of road accident victims during the golden hour. Golden hour is the time period of up to one hour following a traumatic injury. During the golden hour, the likelihood of preventing death through immediate and prompt medical care is the greatest. The Bill has also increased the minimum compensation for hit and run cases.
- Mandatory insurance: The government shall constitute a Motor Vehicle Accident Fund. This fund will be used for providing compulsory insurance cover to all road users in the country. It will be utilised for:
- the treatment of peoples injured in road accidents as per the golden hour rule,
- compensation to nominees of a person who died in a hit and run accident,
- compensation to a victim who is severely hurt in a hit and run accident,
- compensation to any other persons as prescribed by the government.
- Good samaritans: A good samaritan is defined as a person who renders emergency medical/non-medical assistance to a victim of an accident at the scene. The assistance should have been-
- in good faith,
- voluntary, and
- without the expectation of any reward.
- Good samaritans shall not be liable for any civil or criminal action for any injury/death of an accident victim which may be caused due to their negligence in providing assistance to the victim of the accident.
- Recall of vehicles: The central government can order the recall of motor vehicles if a defect in the vehicle may cause damage to the driver, or the environment or to other road users. The manufacturer of the recalled vehicle shall be required to:
- reimburse the buyers, the full cost of the recalled vehicle.
- replace the recalled defective vehicle with another vehicle with similar or better specifications.
- National Transportation Policy: The government will develop a National Transportation Policy. This policy will be developed in consultation with state governments. The Policy will:
- aim to establish a planning framework for road transport in India
- aim to develop a framework for the grant of permits for road transport in India.
- Road Safety Board: The MVA Bill provides for the establishment of a National Road Safety Board. It is to be created by the central government through a notification. The Board shall advise the central and state governments on all comprehensive aspects of road safety and traffic management. This will include:
- standards of vehicles,
- registration and licensing of motor vehicles,
- road safety standards, and
- promotion of the latest vehicle technology.
- Offences and penalties: The Bill has increased penalties for many offences under the Act. For instance, the maximum penalty for driving while intoxicated or under the influence of drugs has now been increased from Rs 2,000 to Rs 10,000.
- In case a vehicle manufacturer fails to comply with standards, the penalty shall be a fine of less than or upto Rs 100 crore or imprisonment of less than or up to one year, or both.
- In case a contractor is not in compliance with road design standards, the penalty shall be a fine of less than or up to one lakh rupees. The government can increase the fines mentioned in the Act per year by up to 10%.
- Taxi aggregators: The Bill also defines aggregators. They are digital intermediaries/ marketplaces which may be used by users to connect with a driver for transportation. These aggregators need licenses to be issued by the state. Further, they must also comply with the IT Act, 2000.
ANALYSIS OF THE MV ACT-2019:
- Very steep penalties to deter rule-breakers.
- Focus on the safety of pillion riders also.
- The number of passengers based on the type of vehicle has been fixed.
- Good Samaritans have been provided legal cover.
- Funds to provide cashless treatment in the golden hour.
- No written test or scrutiny for being eligible to get a driver’s license.
- Period of validity of DL is comparatively high in India as compared to other countries.
- Road safety is under concurrent subject. Despite this, the central government has been unable to enforce the law effectively across states. Several states are still following the previous law and the fines as per it.
- Testing infrastructure is inadequate in India to meet the ever-increasing demand for testing standards of vehicles and road safety.
Overall, the MV Amendment Act of 2019 is a step in the right direction as it aims to deal with the unacceptable burden of deaths and casualties due to road accidents in India.