The Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2019

On 15 July 2019, the Ministry for Road Transport and Highways presented the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2019 in Lower House. The Act provides for the grant of permit and licenses related to motor vehicles, penalties for violation of provision and standard for motor vehicles.

The features of the Bill

Compensation for road accident victims The union government will launch a scheme for cashless treatment of road accident victims during golden hour. The Bill states golden hour as the time period of up to 1 hour following a traumatic injury, during which the probability of preventing death through quick medical care is the highest. The union government may also develop a scheme for providing interim relief to applicants seeking compensation under third party insurance. The Bill increases the minimum compensation for hit and run cases as follows:
  • in case of serious injury, from Rs 12,500 to Rs 50,000.
  • in case of death, from Rs 25,000 to two lakh rupees,
Mandatory insurance The Bill needs the union government to form a Motor Vehicle Accident Fund, to provide mandatory insurance cover to all road users in India. It will be used for:
  • Compensation to any other persons as prescribed by the union government.
  • cure of the persons injured in road accidents as per the golden hour scheme,
  • compensation to a person severely hurt in a hit and run accident,
  • compensation to representatives of a person who died in a hit and run accident
This Fund will be credited through:
  • payment of a nature informed by the central government,
  • balance of the Solatium Fund (existing fund under the Act to provide reimbursement for hit and run accidents),
  • a loan made by the central government,
  • any other source as prescribed by the central government.
Good Samaritans The Bill defines a ‘Good Samaritan’ as a person who delivers emergency medical or non-medical services to a victim at the scene of an accident. The assistance must have been
  • voluntary,
  • in good faith,
  • without the expectation of any award or reward.
Such a person will not be accountable for any criminal or civil action for any injury to or death of an accident victim, caused due to their carelessness in assisting the victim.
Vehicles recall The Bill permits the central government to order for recall of motor vehicles if any flaw or defect in the vehicle may cause damage to the driver, or the environment, or other road users. The manufacturer of the recalled vehicle will be needed to:
  • replace the defective vehicle with another vehicle with better specifications.
  • compensate the buyers for the full cost of the vehicle,
National Transportation Policy The central government may create a National Transportation Policy, in discussion with state governments. The Policy will:
  • establish a framework for grant of permits,
  • specify priorities for the transport system, among other things.
  • set up a planning framework for road transport,
Road Safety Board The Bill provides for a National Road Safety Board, to be formed by the central government. The Board will advise the state and central governments on all aspects of traffic management and road safety including:
  • standards for motor vehicles,
  • standards for road safety,
  • promotion and innovation of new vehicle technology.
  • registration and licensing of motor vehicles,
Offences and penalties The Bill imposes a penalty for several offences under the Act. For instance, the maximum penalty for driving under the effect of alcohol or drugs has been increased from Rs 2,000 to Rs 10,000. If a vehicle manufacturer fails to follow with motor vehicle standards, the penalty will be a fine of up to Rs 100 crore, or imprisonment of up to 1 year, or both. If a contractor fails to follow with road design standards, the penalty will be a fine of up to 1 lakh rupees. The central government may increase fines mentioned under the Act every year by up to 10%.
Taxi aggregators The Bill states aggregators as market places or digital mediators which can be used by passengers to connect with a driver for transportation purposes. These aggregators will get license by state and further, they must comply with the Information Technology (IT) Act, 2000.

Need of the Motor vehicle amendment bill-2019

  • Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 was required to modify in the age of travel demand increasing, rapid urbanisation, major shifts in technology, fast-paced motorisation and poor condition of a road which has inference on public safety.
  • All round accessibility and connectivity for rising population and rural to urban migration.
  • Rural transport requires a significant reform.
  • increasing road accidents and related deaths (annually 1.5 to 2 lakh in India)
  • increasing day to day corruption in the transport office from top to bottom.
  • Rising cab aggregators without any proper guidelines.
  • Rising corruption in the transport office

Issues of the new amended Motor vehicle amendment bill-2019

  • At present, state governments determine guidelines for plying of taxis. By following the amended bill state government will issue to taxi aggregators as per central guidelines. So, this may puzzle the mind of aggregators
  • States also have their concern of trespassing in their jurisdiction by central government so against the constitutional spirit and undermined federalism.
  • The purpose of the new Accident Fund is not apparent, even though we already have a fund to provide compensation to victims of road accidents.
  • Penalties for violation of provisions in this bill is the right step, but charging penalties without knowing the nature of the offences is unfair.