The remarkable growth in the vehicle population has resulted in traffic
congestion, pollution, longer journey time and increased the number of
fatalities and injuries in road accidents. This is due to rapid urbanization and
growth of industry, commerce and employment in urban areas, especially cities.
Thousands of vehicles have been added to our roads every day without a
proportionate improvement infrastructure. This unprecedented growth in traffic
without corresponding improvement in road infrastructure has resulted in severe
problems such as pollution, congestion, accidents, encroachments, traffic
bottlenecks etc. To add to the problem, the civic agencies involved in traffic
management are finding it extremely difficult to cope with such huge traffic
problem due to inadequate physical and financial resources.
Every year in India, around 1, 50, 000 lives are lost in road accidents alone
according to Ministry of Road Transport and Highways. Annually, almost 5, 00,
000 road accidents take place in the country. Despite there being stringent
rules and regulations, there are innumerable cases of traffic rule violations
everyday across India. The Indian roads are the most dangerous in the world
going by the number of road traffic accidents and the ever increasing number of
fatalities resulting out of them. The existing Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 was
archaic and in dire need of amendment to address improvement in road safety,
strengthen public transport and improve transport related services available to
The urgency of the same was brought to light and the Motor Vehicles (Amendment)
Bill was framed and passed by the Lok Sabha in 2017. The same could not be
passed by the Rajya Sabha and lapsed with the dissolution of the 16th Lok Sabha.
In 2019, the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2019 was passed by Lok Sabha on
23rd. July and tabled before the Rajya Sabha by the Union Minister for Road
Transport & Highways, Nitin Gadkari. It has been passed by the Rajya Sabha on
July 31 and received the assent of the President of India on the 09th August,
2019 and is known as The Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 2019 [NO. 32 of 2019]
and came into effect from September 01, 2019. The recent changes in the motor
vehicles law could not have come at a more opportune time, with India being
signatory to the Brasilia Declaration on Road Safety and committing to halve the
number of fatal road accidents by 2020.
The amendments in the 30 year old Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 were much needed as
India needs to keep up with innovation in technology and the automobile sector,
amid rapid urbanization that is leading to road congestion in the cities. The
Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 2019 aims to instill a sense of discipline in the
road users and make Indian roads safer. Among other provisions, the new Act
proposes cashless treatment for victims in the ‘golden hour’ or the first hour
of fatal accidents when victims are most likely to be saved by medical
treatment. Besides, citizens who come forward and rescue accident victims will
not be harassed.
From the accident victim’s perspective, Section 2 ‘(12A) of the Act golden
hour means the time period lasting one hour following a traumatic injury
during which there is highest likelihood of preventing death by providing prompt
The Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 2019 also requires the Central Government to
constitute a Motor Vehicle Accident Fund, which increases the ambit of
protection for treatment of persons injured in hit and run accidents, pay
compensation to the legal heirs of deceased person and to a person grievously
hurt in a hit and run accident. The compensation in hit and run cases stands
enhanced from Rs 25,000/- to Rs 2 lakh in case of death and from Rs 12,500/- to Rs
50,000/- in case of grievous injury.
The enhanced compensation will help in more accident victims and/or their
families filing claims under the hit and run scheme. The new Act has increased
penalty for offences such as driving without a valid license, speeding,
dangerous driving, drunk driving and vehicles plying without a permit, which
will act as deterrent against traffic violations.
The definition of ‘Third Party’ under Section 145 (i) of the Motor Vehicles
(Amendment) Act, 2019, which was an inclusive definition, has been given a wider
connotation and is now defined to include the Government, the driver and any
other co-worker on a transport vehicle.
Now, the victims of an accident claim won’t be required to wait for a long time
for disposal of cases by the Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal. Under Section 149
(1) of the new Act, Insurance Company shall, upon receiving information of the
accident, either from claimant or through 'Accident Information Report' or
otherwise, make an offer to the claimant for settlement before the Claims
Tribunal giving such details, within thirty days, the payment shall be made by
the Insurance Company within a maximum period of thirty days from the date of
receipt of such record of settlement within thirty days. In case of rejection of
such offer, a date of hearing shall be fixed by the Claims Tribunal to
adjudicate such claim on merits. This will benefit the 'Claimants' by
simplifying the claims process and reducing litigation period, which currently
runs into years.
Although insuring any automobile plying on the road is mandatory, many people
violate the Rule. A study by New India Assurance Limited, a State-run General
Insurer, has shown that nearly 70% of motorcycles and scooters on the road are
not insured. About a third of the cars and trucks are uninsured as well. The new
Act has increased the penalty for not having a vehicle insurance from Rs 1,000/-
to Rs 2,000/-. This may lead to more people buying insurance especially
two-wheeler owners where the premium rates are comparatively low and they would
rather opt for insurance than pay fine.
The Section 166 (3) of new Act fixes a limitation period of six months from the
date of accident for filing an application for compensation before the Claims
Tribunal. This will bring down chances of forged claims that are made years
after the accident and relieve Insurance Companies from receiving belated claims
where it becomes difficult to properly investigate genuineness of accident and
As per the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, an Insurance Company has 'Unlimited
liability' under 'Third Party Motor Insurance'. This means that, if a person is
hit by a Motor Vehicle and dies, the victim’s family can claim any amount from
the Insurance Company. The Insurance Companies have time and again justified the
need for a ‘Limited Liability’ i. e 'Third-Party Motor Cover', as is the case of
a fixed compensation for air and train accident victims. It is observed that
there is an annual inflation of 18 - 20%, in the average compensation awarded by
However, the annual premium hikes are not in proportion to the inflation in
Court Awards. The Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 2019 now empowers the Central
Government to prescribe Rules for providing minimum premium and maximum
liability of an insurer in consultation with the regulator.
Another point The Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 2019 has addressed is the mis-interpretation
of the wordings of the Act, making Insurance Companies liable to pay the
compensation irrespective of the statutory defenses available to them under the
existing Act and later recovering the same from the insured. The scope for any
confusion has been done away with in the new amendment. The insurers can now
deny 'Third Party Liability Claims' if the person behind the wheels or riding a
motorcycle does not have valid driving license or permit or if the policy holder
has not paid insurance premium. This will instil discipline among the vehicle
owners to follow law of the land.
In view of the rising litigation costs and high pendency of motor accident
claims before the Courts, the amendments have attempted to reduce the pendency
by increasing the limit of the amount in dispute. Under Section 173 of the
principal Act, in sub-section (2), for the words Ten Thousand, the words
One lakh stands substituted, for filing an appeal to be made against the award of
The new amendments reposes faith of the citizens of India in its legislative
system, which strives to benefit and safeguard their interest. At the same time
Insurance Companies will also benefit, who can in turn work towards
strengthening country’s economy along with providing justifiable compensation
wherever liable. The driving errors are going to make a huge dent in monthly
budget of violators of traffic laws and some of them may cost the same or more
than monthly fuel bill of the violators.
Enhancement of Penalties
The Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 2019 has enhanced the penalties for driving
errors. It has enhanced penalty for offences where no penalty is specifically
provided for - first offence from up to Rs 100/- to Rs 500/- and second/subsequent
offence from up to Rs 300/- to Rs 1,500/-.
Public Transport/State/Contract Carriage
* The fine imposed on those travelling without the right ticket or not producing
the valid ticket/pass during inspection in public transport is Rs 500.
* The driver or conductor of the ‘Public Transport' who refuses to give valid
ticket can be punished and be liable to pay a fine up to Rs 500.
* Those drivers/conductors of a 'Contract Carriage' who fail to fulfil their
duty to carry passengers are liable to pay a fine up to Rs 50 in case of
two/three wheelers and up to Rs 500 for others.
* Those who disobey any order of concerned authorities is liable to pay Rs 2000
and if anyone refuses to provide information or provides false information to
the authorities is liable to pay a fine up to Rs 2000 and/or imprisonment up to
Unauthorized Driving and Driving License
* Permitting an unauthorised person to drive is an offence and the person in
charge/ owner of the vehicle will have to pay a fine up to Rs 5000 or/and face
imprisonment up to 3 months.
* Driving without holding a 'Driver’s License' will end up in imprisonment up to
3 months and/or fine up to Rs 5000.
* He/she who has been disqualified for holding or obtaining a 'Driver’s License'
and yet, is found to be driving in public places will be treated as an offender
and is legally bound to pay a fine up to Rs 10,000 and/or face imprisonment up to
3 months. The license then obtained will also not have any effect.
* Those who do not possess a valid conductor license but works as conductor in
'Public Transport'/'Stage Carriage', will have to face imprisonment extending up
to one month and/or pay fine of Rs 10,000. His/ Her license will also remain
Modification of a Motor Vehicle
* Modification of one’s motor vehicle that doesn’t comply with the rules set by
the Government under this act is an offence and the offender will be liable to
imprisonment of up to 6 months and/or fine of Rs 5000 per alteration.
Violating Speed Limits
In order to control traffic, the Government has maximum and minimum speed limits
which are determined by the Central Government and the relevant State
Governments. Not complying with these speed limits will result in the driver /
employer of the driver, whoever is responsible for the speed to pay a fine as
* For 'Light Motor Vehicle' Rs 1000 to Rs 2000
* 'Medium Goods Vehicle' / 'Medium Passenger Vehicle' / 'Heavy Goods Vehicle' /
'Heavy Passenger Vehicle' Rs 2000 to Rs 4000
* If found guilty for the second time or subsequently, the Police Officer or the
authorised personal can confiscate the 'Driver’s License' and forward it to the
concerned officials for disqualification/revocation.
* If the 'Driver' of a motor vehicle is found to have consumed alcohol and has
alcohol more than 30 mg per 100 ml in his/her blood sample or has consumed drugs
(any intoxicant which falls under the list as per the Central Government
Notification) is legally bound to pay a fine of Rs 10,000 and/or face
imprisonment up to six months for the first offence. If found guilty again, the
punishment will be up to 2 years imprisonment and/or fine of Rs 15,000.
Dangerous Driving – Jumping Red light, Wrong Direction driving, using mobile
* If someone drives the vehicle in a dangerous manner which causes
alarm/distress to those in the vehicle, other road users and those near the
roads, the public, depending on the nature, condition and the kind of place is
liable to be imprisoned for a term of 6 months to one year and/or fine varying
from Rs 10,000 to Rs 50,000. Examples of dangerous manner include jumping red
lights, not following stop sign, overtaking in wrong direction, using mobile
phones, driving in wrong direction, etc.
Accidents & Penalty for not stopping a Vehicle
* It is the driver’s duty to stop the vehicle when asked to do so by an
authorized Police Officer or by someone in charge of an animal. In case of an
accident, he is also responsible for any damage inflicted upon 'Third Party' or
'Third Party’s Property' due to his driving. He/she has to take the injured
person to the nearest hospital and report the same to the Police. Failing to do
so will result in an imprisonment which can extend up to six months and/or Rs
5000 fine. Repeating this offence will result in one year imprisonment and/or Rs
10,000 fine. This is in addition to the other criminal liabilities.
Vehicle in Unsafe condition
* Driving or knowingly allowing someone else to drive a vehicle which is in an
unsafe condition and has a defect which can be detected beforehand and avoided
is a legal offence with Rs 1500 fine. If this results in damage to property or
person, then the punishment may extend to imprisonment up to three months and/or
a fine of Rs 5000. Subsequent offence will result in imprisonment that can extend
to six months or with a fine of Rs 10,000 for bodily injury or damage to
Air and Noise Pollution
* Violation of road safety rules, air and noise pollution is punishable with
imprisonment of up to three months and/or fine up to Rs 10,000 and license
disqualification for three months. Subsequent offence will result in
imprisonment up to six months and/or fine up to Rs 10,000.
Vehicle without Registration & Insurance
* Driving vehicle without registration is a severe offence that will result in
imprisonment of six months and a penalty of Rs 10,000 fine.
* If a person is driving a vehicle that is not insured, he/she is liable to pay
a fine up to Rs 2000 and/or imprisonment up to 3 months. On repetition of this
offence, the fine will go up to Rs 4000.
Driving without Helmet
* Penalty for driving a two wheeler without helmet is Rs 1000 and up to three
months suspension of license. Same is the amount for not wearing seat belts
while driving four wheelers.
Offence committed by a Juvenile
* If any of the offence is committed by a juvenile, the guardian of the juvenile
or the owner of the motor vehicle will be held guilty and action will be taken
against him/her unless and until he/she is unaware of the offence or tried to
stop it. The punishment will be fine of Rs 25,000 and imprisonment up to 3 years
in addition to the cancellation of vehicle registration for one year. If the
juvenile holds a learner’s license, he/she will not be eligible for driving
license until he/she attains 25 years of age. Further, action as per Juvenile
Justice Act will also be initiated.
Obstructing the Traffic by leaving Vehicle unattended
* For those who obstruct the traffic on the road by leaving their vehicle, an
hourly fine of Rs 500 has to be paid. When the vehicle is removed, he/ she also
has to bear the expenses of moving/towing of the vehicle by a government
authorised agency This is not applicable for a vehicle that has been involved in
an accident until the inspection is complete.
Power to arrest for certain offences
* Police officers in uniform have the power to arrest without warrant, those who
commit punishable offences like drunken driving, dangerous driving and driving
without authority. The person under arrest has to be subject to medical
examination within two hours of custody. The presence of a female official is
mandatory during medical examination if the person under custody is female.
* If the Police Officer seizes anybody’s ‘Driving License’, he/she must provide
a temporary acknowledgement. This acknowledgement shall not authorise the holder
to drive unless he/she receives their
* No one who is prosecuted for driving dangerously and over speeding shall be
convicted unless he/she was given a warning at the time of committing the
offence. Also, within two weeks of committing the offence, a registered post has
to be sent to the offender or the registered owner of the vehicle about the
offence and time and location at which it took place.
States can increase these penalties
The objective of these amendments is to bring down the number of road accidents
and loss of lives that take place as a result of it. The increasing number of
vehicles and hence, the vehicle density on roads only increase possibilities of
accidents. In 2017, there have been reports of India having topped the list of
countries in fatalities due to road accidents. In order to curb this, the
penalties to be paid for various offences have been increased 5 to 10 times
compared to the existing provisions as per the 1988 Act. In addition, the State
Governments have been authorized to increase the prescribed penalties with a
multiplier, not less than one and not greater than ten, to be applied to each
fine. Different multipliers may be applied to different classes of motor
As far as road safety is concerned, discipline is imperative. Violating traffic
rules must act as a deterrent. So, the frequency of getting caught (for
violating traffic rules) has to increase. The Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act,
2019 if implemented in letter and spirit, can change road habits of all by not
imposing stiffer penalties for breaking the Rules, but also trying to in
calculate a sense of responsibility among the citizens to abide by them.
Written By: Dinesh Singh Chauhan, Advocate - J&K High Court of
Email: [email protected], [email protected]