Lok Sabha Chambers, Sansad Bhavan, Sansad Marg, New Delhi, India. image courtesy:Wikipedia

A bill to unleash radical reforms in the transport sector by ensuring 100 per cent e-governance, checking bogus driving licenses and vehicle thefts, slapping heavy penalty on traffic violators and protecting the good samaritan was approved by the Lok Sabha today.

The bill seeks to save lives by ushering in radical reforms in the motor vehicles law,making vehicle-makers responsible for design defects to cut road accidents.

India is a step away from a game-changing legislation that will revamp the laws governing transportation in the country, with the Lok Sabha on Monday passing the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2016.

The amendment to the motor vehicles Act will now be introduced in the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday. If the House does not suggest any further changes, then it will be moved to the President for his assent.

The bill, which seeks to amend nearly 30-year-old Motor Vehicle Act 1988, also calls for 100 per cent e-governance and will cap maximum liability for third party insurance at Rs 10 lakh in case of death in a motor accident.

Stricter penalties are proposed for high-risk offences such as drunken driving, dangerous driving, overloading, and non-adherence to safety norms by drivers (such as non-usage of seat belts and helmets).

All efforts would be made to eliminate corruption in the sector, Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari said while replying to a discussion on the Motor Vehicle (Amendment) Bill, 2016, claiming that “no bogus driving lincences would be made and there would be no theft of vehicles once there is e-governance.”

The minister said once the changes are incorporated in the law, it would be impossible for anyone including VIPs like politicians to obtain driving license without tests. “Even as a minister I would not be able to obtain driving license sitting at home,” Gadkari stressed.

The minister said that the proposal on strengthening the network of trauma centres has also been received.

Euro VI emission norms, Gadkari added, would be made mandatory from April 1, 2020.

The bill provides for linking of driving licence and vehicle registration with Adhaar—based platform and heavy penalties for traffic violations.

The bill also provides for Aadhaar-based verification for grant of online services including learner’s licence. This would ensure integration of online services and also stop creation of duplicate licences.

Under the new system, every one will have to go to the licence issuing authority under a uniform procedure and if the licence is not issued in three days, the RTO will have to face action. A learners licence can be availed online sitting at home.

“There is a provision in the bill under which if holes are found on roads, DPR designer and contractor would be held accountable,” Gadkari said, adding that the ministry would blacklist the contractor.

It also provides specific timelines for processing of insurance claims. A ten fold increase has been made in the amount of compensation awarded under a simplified process of claims disbursal wherein the family of an accident victim would get compensation of Rs. 5 lakh as settlement within four months of the accident. Presently it takes at least four to five years for an award.

Experts welcomed the move. “The new Act will be a comprehensive piece of legislation dealing with all aspects related to safe and sustainable mobility in the country,” said Abdul Majeed, partner and national auto practice leader at PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Vishnu Mathur, director general of lobby group Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers, said, “Liability is being fixed at every stage, which means everyone has got their share of responsibility to ensure road safety. It is pretty much an integrated approach. It will make basic changes to the way people look at road safety.”


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