Adwitia Maity, Department of Law, University of Calcutta
Shivangi Khattar, Jim's School of Law, IP University
Sheetal Sharma, Faculty of Law, University of Delhi
Lalima Gupta, UILS, Punjab University
Editor : Sheetal Sharma, Faculty of Law, University of Delhi
After the enactment of the Motor Vehicle Act, 1988, India was faced with a revolution in terms of technology and other vital aspects of development. This led to a need for reconsideration of the existing provisions and also the introduction of the newer provisions to keep updated with the dynamism. As an answer to this call for change, the amendments to the Motor Vehicles Act were finally passed by the Parliament and came to effect from September 1, 2019. A detailed discussion on the same has been done in the following portion of this article.
Key elements of the 2019 Amendment Act
The new Motor Vehicle Act amendment included all those provisions which were needed to evolve with the fast pacing motorizing roads, such as inclusion of provisions on taxi aggregators, victim’s health, compensation and penalty on violation of road safety standards, third party insurance etc.
First and foremost, the act has included provisions for compensation for road accident victims. It allows the victims of the road accident to get cashless treatment during the golden hour. The golden hour is very crucial so the victim can go to any hospital and get treatment done without any payment. Heavy penalties have been provided on violation of standards provided on grave offences such as drunk driving, over speeding, not wearing seat belts, hit and run cases etc. And the penalties may be increased by the government every year by 10%. The rise in the amount of penalties has raised many eyes considering it to be inefficient to stop road safety rules because high penalty more often than not doesn’t prove to be deterrent in nature. Moreover, the act has also included the penalty on manufacturer of motors and road contractors if they fail to comply with safety norms of their work domain.
The Act provides for the establishment of Motor Vehicle Accident Fund to provide relief claims, compulsory insurance and compensation which was earlier covered under Solatium Fund.
Section 138(1A) gives power to states to make provisions to control the activities and insert further laws on pedestrians and non-motorized road users.
The act further exempts a good samaritan from any liability which can occur (such as death of the injured) when he is assisting the injured person during the road accident. Provided the act is done in good faith, voluntarily and without the expectation of any reward. This provision is inserted to promote good deeds.
National Road Safety Board shall be created to assist the central government with aid and advise on road safety and traffic management domains. The Act has included provisions for taxi aggregators because of the increasing number of online taxi services such as Ola and Uber and the act says that the license will be issued by state for these taxi aggregators and they will be governed by the IT Act, 2000.
The amended act has brought drastic changes in the 1988 act providing with burgeoning compensation to the victims, mandatory pollution certification, insurance and improvised penalty system. Major changes brought are:
DEFAULT BY MANUFACTURERS: HOW TO COMPENSATE
If there arises any default in the manufacturing of the vehicle which causes any loss to the Environment, owner and the traffic in general the manufacturer is provided with two remedies:
· Reimburse the owner the complete cost of vehicle or,
· Replace the defected one with the new one.
MOTOR VEHICLE ACCIDENT FUND: UNDER CENTRAL GOVERNMENT
The funds will be raised by government in any of the following ways:
· payment of a nature notified by the central government,
· a grant or loan made by the central government,
· balance of the Solatium Fund (already existing fund under the Act to provide compensation for hit and run accidents), OR
any other source as prescribed the central government. It will provide quick relief in cases like:
· treatment of persons injured in road accidents under the golden hour scheme,
· compensation to representatives of a person who died and to a person grievously hurt in a hit and run accident,
· compensation to any other persons as prescribed by the central government.
SAFETY SAVES: ADVISORY BOARD AND TRANSPORTATION POLICY
The Board will advise the central and state governments on all aspects of road safety and traffic management including like
· Standards of motor vehicles,
· Registration and licensing of vehicles,
· Standards for road safety, and
· Promotion of new vehicle technology.
National Transportation Policy may be established which will:
· Establish a planning framework for road transport,
· Develop a framework for grant of permits, and
· Specify priorities for the transport system, among other things.
A STEP TOWRDS DIGITILISATION
Some of the digital intermediaries or market places can be used by passengers to connect with a near-by driver for transportation purposes (taxi services) can be done with the help of licensed aggregators.
Issues with the Motor Vehicle Act, 2019
It was observed by the standing committee on Road Safety & Transport that majority of the accidents are caused due to negligent act of vehicle owners/drivers, defect in motor vehicles, faulty acts of pedestrians, etc. The main purpose of this bill was to improve road safety and help citizens to deal with transport departments and also to strengthen public and rural transports through automation, computerization and digital services. To some extent this act is really helpful in controlling road accidents, but it also created a lot of issues or trouble for the public.
The first major issue faced after this amendment is that most of the drivers are illiterate due to which it is very difficult to make them understand the written laws. The second issue relates to the power that has been granted to the cops by this amendment. They started misusing their powers and harassing public for issues relating to fine which has increased the corruption in the department. Third issue, even though the government has permitted to have electronic documents viz Driving license, Registration copy, Insurance policy, Permits, etc. by vehicle owners / drivers for verification by police/ traffic police, still they are demanding above referred documents in physical form for varication. Another issue, Traffic Police / police are doing challans for wrongful activity done by people, but they are taking amount in cash for challans without providing any receipt for the same. Sometimes they are charging higher amount for challans, but giving receipt of challans for very nominal value.
Therefore, in order to reduce corruption in the department, the challan should be done on the basis of CCTV footage and the same be sent on vehicle owner’s address for making payment.
The Motor Vehicles amendment bill which was passed by the Parliament with the aim of controlling road accidents and maintaining discipline on the roads by tightening traffic rules and enhancing penalties for the offences like Driving without license, speeding, drunken driving, seat belt violation etc. still the laws are not being followed properly. Also, proper punishment is not given to the driver/ vehicle owner by Traffic police/ police. Therefore, it is very essential that government should keep a check that there should not be misuse of power and also the laws are being followed properly. This will help is resolving the issues that are being faced by the public regarding challans.
 The Motor Vehicle (Amendment) Bill, 2019, Ministry: Road Transport and Highways, PRS Legislative Research, July 10, 2020, at 12 :07pm https://www.prsindia.org/billtrack/motor-vehicles-amendment-bill-2019.  Motor Vehicle( Amendment) Act, 2019, July 10, 2020, at 10:00 am, http://egazette.nic.in.