States move to dilute Motor Vehicles Act, show it's easy to break rules and endanger lives of people

With extremely steep and heavy penalties for road traffic violations, the Motor Vehicle Act 2019 should have been a welcome step but several state governments have decided to either not implement the same or have gone ahead and reduced the penalties by as much as 90 per cent.

In a bid to inculcate good driving habits, curb traffic violations and instill the fear of law, the Central government amended the Motor Vehicles Act, which came into effect on September 1, 2019. With extremely steep and heavy penalties for road traffic violations, the Act should have been a welcome step. But several state governments have decided to either not implement the same or have gone ahead and reduced the penalties by as much as 90 per cent.

Gujarat, Odisha, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Chhattisgarh, Puducherry, Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal are some of the states which have not backed the Centre's move. Such a lackadaisical and careless attitude gives out a message that it is very easy to break the law in India and get away with it. The lenient stand by these states also reveal that votebank politics and image of the government is more important for political parties than the lives of people using the road.

Gujarat: Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani announced a reduction in the fines under the new Motor Vehicles Act. As per the reduced fine announced by the Gujarat government, the penalty for not wearing a helmet in the state is Rs 500, while it is Rs 1,000 under the MV Act. The fine for not wearing seat belts in Gujarat has been reduced to Rs 500, while it is Rs 1,000 under the new Motor Vehicles Act. Driving a vehicle without Driving Licence will attract a fine of Rs 2,000 for the two-wheelers and Rs 3,000 for the rest in Gujarat, while in other parts of India the fine is Rs 5,000 under the new rule.

The Gujarat government, however, stopped short of tinkering with the fine if the licence, insurance, PUC, RC book is not there and said that the fine for these violations will be as per the new Motor Vehicles Act. For the first time, the violators will have to pay Rs 500 in fine and second time penalty is Rs 1,000. The fine for triple riding will be Rs 100 as against Rs 1,000 in the MV Act. As per the new MV Act, driving a vehicle with pollution attracts a fine of Rs 10,000 but in Gujarat, it will be Rs 1,000 for small vehicles and Rs 3,000 for large vehicles.

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Odisha: Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has issued a direction to not go aggressively on an overdrive but counsel and handhold the public to facilitate compliance with the amended provisions of the Motor Vehicle Act. The transport department has been directed to augment public services, strengthen facilitation centres, open extra counters, conducts camps in public institutions to enable motor vehicle users to update their compliance status. This process will continue over the next three months.

Punjab: The Punjab government has put on hold the implementation of the Act. According to state Transport Minister Razia Sultana, the old penalty would continue to be charged for traffic-related violations until "a decision was taken on the implementation of the amended Act".

Telangana: The state is still to take a call and the authorities are discussing the quantum of penalties under the new traffic law. The government aims to prepare the commuters before implementing the new act.

Rajasthan: The Congress government in the state is seeking to do away with the heavy fines imposed and it is unlikely that Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot-led government in the state would implement the amended law in near future.

Madhya Pradesh: In another Congress-ruled state, the rules will be imposed when the people are aware of the high penalties. Chief Minister Kamal Nath said his government will first study the new amendments in the Motor Vehicles Act and then decide. "Notification has not been issued in MP, so it will not apply here. We will first study the new provisions, which will be deliberated upon. We will also study how our neighbouring states are reacting to this," Kamal Nath said in a tweet.

West Bengal: The Trinamool Congress-ruled state has outrightly refused to implement the Act. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has slammed the Centre for steep hike in penalties for traffic rules violations, saying TMC MPs had opposed the Bill when it was placed in Parliament.

Karnataka: The Office of Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa on Wednesday instructed officials to study the Gujarat model of revised traffic fines to implement something similar in the state.

Kerala: Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has reportedly sought legal advice from Advocate General CP Sudhakara Prasad over ways to address rising complaints against the amended law. He has asked a panel consisting of secretaries of Law and Traffic departments and Transport Commissioner to submit a report on the possibility of relaxing certain penalty rules.

Puducherry: Chief Minister V Narayanasamy has said the government will launch programmes aimed at creating awareness among the public about the amended act before implementing it in Puducherry.

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