The Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2019 was passed by Rajya Sabha. The Bill has been passed with three Government amendments and will need to go back to Lok Sabha. The Lok Sabha had already passed the Bill on the 23rd of July 2019. The Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2019 is based on the recommendations of the Group of Transport Ministers (GoM) of States constituted by the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways to address the issue of road safety and to improve the facilitation of the citizens while dealing with transport departments.
- The GoM was headed by Shri. Yoonus Khan, the then Transport Minister of Rajasthan, and had 18 State Transport Ministers from different political parties as members.
- On the basis of recommendations of the GoM and other pressing requirements, the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways introduced the Motor Vehicle (Amendment) Bill 2016. This, along with amendments, was passed by Lok Sabha on 10th April, 2017. The Bill as passed by Lok Sabha was introduced in Rajya Sabha and was referred to the Select Committee of the Rajya Sabha on 08.08.2017.
- The Select Committee presented its report to the Parliament on 22nd December, 2017. The Bill was pending in the Rajya Sabha and lapsed with the dissolution of the 16th Lok Sabha.
- The amendments in the Bill mainly focus on issues relating to improving road safety, citizens’ facilitation while dealing with the transport department, strengthening rural transport, last mile connectivity and public transport, automation and computerization and enabling online services. Some of the important areas of amendment are as follows:
- In the area of road safety, the Bill proposes to increase penalties to act as deterrent against traffic violations. Stricter provisions are being proposed in respect of offences like juvenile driving, drunken driving, driving without licence, dangerous driving, over-speeding, overloading etc.
- Stricter provisions for helmets have been introduced along with provisions for electronic detection of violations. Penalty regarding motor vehicles is to be increased by 10 % every year..
- The Bill mandates automated fitness testing for vehicles. This would reduce corruption in the transport department while improving the road worthiness of the vehicle.
- Penalty has been provided for deliberate violation of safety/environmental regulations as well as body builders and spare part suppliers. The process for testing and certification for automobiles is proposed to be regulated more effectively.
- The testing agencies issuing automobile approvals have been brought under the ambit of the Act and standards will be set for motor vehicle testing institutes.The Bill also provides for compulsory recall of defective vehicles and power to examine irregularities of vehicle companies.
- The Bill allows the central government to order for recall of motor vehicles if a defect in the vehicle may cause damage to the environment, or the driver, or other road users.
- The manufacturer of the recalled vehicle will be required to: (i) reimburse the buyers for the full cost of the vehicle, or (ii) replace the defective vehicle with another vehicle with similar or better specifications.
Road Safety Board
- The Bill provides for a National Road Safety Board, to be created by the central government through a notification.
- The Board will advise the central and state governments on all aspects of road safety and traffic management including standards of motor vehicles, registration and licensing of vehicles, standards for road safety, and promotion of new vehicle technology.
- To help road accident victims, Good Samaritan guidelines have been incorporated in the Bill. The Bill defines a Good Samaritan as a person who renders emergency medical or non-medical assistance to a victim at the scene of an accident, and provides rules to prevent harassment of such a person.
Motor Vehicle Accident Fund
- The Bill requires the central government to constitute a Motor Vehicle Accident Fund, to provide compulsory insurance cover to all road users in India.
- It will be utilised for treatment of persons injured in road accidents as per the golden hour scheme, compensation to representatives of a person who died in a hit and run accident, compensation to a person grievously hurt in a hit and run accident, and compensation to any other persons as prescribed by the central government.
- This Fund will be credited through: payment of a nature notified by the central government, a grant or loan made by the central government, balance of the Solatium Fund (existing fund under the Act to provide compensation for hit and run accidents),or any other source as prescribed the central government.