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Policy Analysis On The Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 2019

The Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 which was passed by the Parliament in the year 1988 contains provisions related to traffic regulations, road transport vehicles, registration and insurance of the vehicle, penalties and fines. The era of industrialization, urbanization and increasing incomes of the people have led to a massive increase in the number of motor vehicles in India, which has further led to an increase in road accidents.

To address the problem of road accidents and various other issues such as road safety, road discipline, compensation for victims, vehicle health, third party insurance, etc, the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 2019 was passed by the Parliament on August 5, 2020. The Act came into effect on September 1, 2020.

Key Provisions of Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 2019:

  1. Compensation in hit and run cases
    Motor vehicles Act, 1988 - In this Act, the compensation for victims in a hit and run cases is Rs. 12,500 in case of grievous hurt and Rs. 25,000 in case of death.

    Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 2019 - This act amended section 161 of the 1988 Act to increase the compensation to Rs. 50, 000 in case of grievous hurt and Rs. 2 lakhs or higher in case of death.
     
  2. Penalty multiplier
    Motor vehicles Act, 1988 - This Act didn't contain any provision for multiplying the fine where the State government could multiply the fines or penalties.

    Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 2019: This Act in Section - 210A gave power to the State governments to increase fines up to ten times the amount specified in the Act. Also, Section - 210B imposes a penalty on enforcing authority under this Act. The enforcing authority would have to pay double the penalty corresponding to that offence under the Act.
     
  3. National Transportation Policy
    Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 - In this Act, there was no proviso for formulating a single unified transportation policy for the country.

    Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 2019: This Act in Sections 66A and 66B has empowered the central government to implement a National Transport Policy after consultation with the States.
     
  4. National Road Safety Board
    Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 - In this Act, there was no provision for constituting a national body for road safety.

    Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 2019 - This Act in section 215D establishes a National Road Safety Board. The work of this Board is to advise the central and state governments on issues relating to road safety, traffic management, vehicle maintenance, road maintenance, motor vehicle standards, standards of road design, etc.
     
  5. Transport Aggregators
    Motor Vehicles Act, 1988: This Act did not recognise transport aggregators like cab service providers, etc.

    Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 2019: This Act in section 93 gives statutory recognition to these transport aggregators.
     
  6. Safety of pedestrians and non-motor transport users
    Motor Vehicles Act, 1988:
    This Act did not contain any provision for the safety of pedestrians and non-motor transport users on road.

    Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 2019:
    This Act inserted a new subsection (1A) in section 138 which gives power to the state governments to make rules specifying how the activities of pedestrians and non-motor road transport users in a public place can be regulated. For this, the state government can create special zones such as cycle tracks, footpaths, etc.
     
  7. Safety of Children during the commute
    Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 - This Act did not contain any provision for the safety of children during the commute.

    Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 2019:
    This Act inserted section 194B and made it mandatory for the children to be safe by a safety belt or some kind of child restraint system. This section also provides for adult accountability by imposing a fine of one thousand rupees for not using a seat belt or child restraint system for the safety of children. This Act has also amended section 129 of the 1988 Act and has made it mandatory that every child above the age of 4 years on a motorcycle shall wear protective headgear.

    The design and specifications of the helmet may be prescribed by the central government from time t time. This Act has also inserted clause (aa) in section 137(2) wherein the union government can provide standards and specifications of the helmet and also take measures for the safety of children below the age of 4 years who are being carried on a motorcycle.
     
  8. Recalling vehicles
    Motor Vehicles Act, 1988:
    This Act did not contain any provision for recalling vehicles that have become old or harmful to nature or that no longer meet the safety standards.

    Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 2019:
    This Act in sections 110A and 110B has empowered the central government to recall those vehicles which do not meet safety standards and these sections have also provided for establishing testing agencies to issue certificates of approval for vehicles.

     
  9. Punishment for faulty road designs, engineering and maintenance
    Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 - This Act did not contain any provision by which road contractors and agencies can be held responsible for faulty road designs and non-maintenance of roads which is one of the major reasons for road accidents.

    Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 2019 - This Act in section - 198A holds road contractors, agencies, or consultants responsible and imposes a penalty of up to Rs. one lakh for faulty road design, construction and non - maintenance of roads. This provision will help in improving the quality of roads and reduce road accidents.
     
  10. Registration of new motor vehicles by vehicle dealers
    Motor Vehicles Act, 1988:
    Under section 41 of this Act, vehicle dealers were not able to register motor vehicles.

    Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 2019:
    This Act amended section 41 of the 1988 Act and enabled the vehicle dealers to register new vehicles. These newly registered vehicles will bear distinguishable registration marks. It also imposes a penalty of up to Rs. 15, 000 on dealers who fail to register a vehicle or those who don't perform their duties well.
     
  11. Penalty for offences relating to construction and maintenance of vehicles
    Motor Vehicles Act, 1988:
    Under section 182A of this Act, the penalty for offences relating to the construction and maintenance of vehicles was Rs. 1, 000 for the first offence and Rs. 5,000 for the subsequent offence.

    Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 2019:
    This Act amended section 182A and enhanced the penalty for offences relating to construction and maintenance of vehicles by manufacturers, dealers, importers and owners of motor vehicles to up to rupees one hundred crores and imprisonment of up to one year.
     
  12. Dangerous driving
    Motor Vehicles Act, 1988:
    Under this Act, the definition of dangerous driving has a very narrow scope and does not include common traffic such as crossing red lights or using mobile phones while driving, etc. Also, the fine for dangerous driving is very less i.e. Rs. 1,000.

    Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 2019:
    This Act has amended Section 184 of the 1988 Act and has broadened the scope of the definition of dangerous driving to consider the acts which shall be considered dangerous such as crossing red lights, using mobile phones while driving or overtaking a vehicle in such a way which is contrary to law. This Act has also increased penalties for dangerous driving.
     
  13. Offences by juveniles
    Motor Vehicles Act, 1988:
    Under this Act, a person who allows any other unauthorised person to drive a vehicle, he is punished with a penalty of Rs. 1,000 and imprisonment of up to 3 months.

    Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 2019:
    This Act amended Section 199A and held the guardian/owner of the vehicle liable for the offences committed by the juvenile. A fine of Rs. 25,000 and/or imprisonment of up to three years will be imposed on the guardian/owner of the vehicle and the juvenile will be tried under the juvenile justice Act.
     
  14. Electronic monitoring and enforcement of road safety
    Motor Vehicles Act, 1988:
    The enforcement is a State subject, so electronic monitoring and enforcement of road safety differs from one state to another.

    Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 2019:
    This Act inserted section 136A which makes the central government responsible for making rules for electronic monitoring and enforcement of road safety and state governments are responsible to implement the same.
     
  15. Revising fines
    Motor Vehicles Act, 1988:
    This Act did not contain any provision which provided for an increase in penalties so that penalties are consistent with the inflation level.

    Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 2019:
    This Act inserted section 199B which provides for a fixed increase in all the penalties by @10% yearly from April 1 of every year.
     
  16. Transparent, centralised and efficient driver's licensing system
    Motor Vehicles Act, 1988:
    This Act did not provide for any centralised data of all licences and motor vehicles in India which has led to a situation where a person may have many licenses from different states. To drive a vehicle, the applicant must have minimum educational qualifications. Section 9(3) of this Act exempts applicants for driver's licenses to take the test of competence if the person possesses a driving certificate issued by any institute which is recognized by the state government.
     

Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 2019:

This Act has inserted sub-section 5 in section 12 and has removed the necessity of possessing a license to drive a light motor vehicle for at least one year before applying for a learner's license to drive a transport vehicle. Now, a person can apply for any class of vehicle if he has formal training for that class.

The renewal of the transport license under Section 14 (2) (a) has been increased to five years from three years. The renewal of the transport license for driving vehicles with hazardous goods has been increased to three years from one year subject to some conditions. Section 9(3) has also been removed.

Section 25A has been inserted which provides for the constitution of the National Register of Driving Licenses and also provides that no driving license shall be valid if it has not been issued a unique driving license number under the National Register of Driving Licenses.

Other points to note:
Under Section 164B of the 2019 Act, the Central Government shall constitute a Fund named "Motor Vehicle Accident Fund" for providing compulsory insurance cover to all road users in India.

Under section 134A of the 2019 Act, the government has inserted a new section for Good Samaritans. A good Samaritan is a person who gives emergency medical or non-medical assistance to a road accident victim. Any civil/criminal action won't be taken against a Good Samaritan for any injury or death caused to a victim met with a road accident, for being negligent in acting or failing to act while giving emergency medical or non-medical care.

Why the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 was amended and its effect?

According to the WHO report of 2018, the country where the highest number of road accidents happens is India (WHO, 2018). The report of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways says that around 1.49 lakhs of people have died in 2018 in road accidents. The report of 2017 says that around 5 lakhs road accidents have occurred in the year, out of which 1.47 lakh people have died (Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, 2017).

The objective of the amendment is to deter people from violating traffic rules by imposing heavy fines for drunk driving, driving without a licence, dangerous driving, over-speeding, etc. The objective of this amendment was also to make the manufacturers liable for faulty manufacturing of vehicles, make the contractors liable for faulty construction of roads, provide adequate compensation to the victims of road accidents and fill the lapses in the 1988 Act.

The effect of this amendment is that road accidents have been reduced. This Act very well follows the acronym - "Alert today, alive tomorrow".

Conclusion
This Act concludes that due to the stringent provisions, the people will become extra careful while following the traffic rules and it will eventually lead to the safety of people. The hefty penalties have set up fear in a person who violates the traffic rules. Most of the states have implemented the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 2019 from 1st September 2019. However, the question that this Act raises is of increasing corruption.

Hefty fines will lead to an increase in corruption. Managing hefty fines is quite difficult for the younger people and underprivileged sections of society. So, this might lure the traffic police to take benefit of such a situation. To solve this problem, this Act contains provisions wherein the actions of the traffic police must be strictly monitored to ensure no corruption. Also, there is a provision in the Act that imposes a double penalty on the traffic police if they are found violating the rules.

There is no doubt that the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 2019 has attempted to positively impact the citizens of the country. This Act has made human lives a priority by providing a safer road transport system. This Act has provided for building, improving and maintaining road networks and road infrastructure. This Act has also made efforts toward environmental protection by providing provisions for controlling emissions released by vehicles.

To conclude, the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 2019 has provided for an efficient, safe and corruption-free transport system in India.

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