States to End Gatkari’s Dreams to Improve Discipline on Indian Roads; Reduce Penalties Under New Motor Vehicles Act

With Union road transport and highways minister Nitin Gadkari on Wednesday saying states were free to take their own decision, state departments started cutting down fines for traffic violations. The Centre has no objection on states bringing down penalties for traffic violation under the new Motor Vehicles Act, Union Minister of Road Transport and Highway Nitin Gadkari said.

On Tuesday, Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani announced a drastic cut ranging from Rs 1,000 to Rs 10,000 in some cases for penalties for traffic violations, which were envisaged under the amended Motor Vehicles Act that came into effect from September. Another state Kerala also came up with their plans to cut down penalties, the order for which is expected in the coming days.

“First of all, the Motor Vehicles Act is in the concurrent list. Centre and state governments have the right to make laws in this regard…and they’ll (states) take decision what they consider is appropriate,” Gadkari said.

He was responding to a query on how he viewed BJP-ruled Gujarat taking steps contrary to what the Centre has done with regards to penalties prescribed under the amended law. Opposition-ruled states like Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal have also refused to implement the new law.

“If they (states) want to reduce the fines let them but lives of people should be saved and there should be fewer accidents. There has to be awareness over this. Stressing that people will ultimately understand, Gadkari said, “It was not the intention of the government to earn revenue by imposing heavy fines.” Even if revenue is generated through penalties, it would go to the states’ kitty only and not Centre, Gadkari asserted.

Defending the steep penalties under the Motor Vehicles Act (2019), the minister said it was important to prevent accidents to save lives as India witnesses 5 lakh accidents every year, killing 1.5 lakh and crippling another 3 lakh.

Crediting the new law for bringing road discipline, the minister said many people have now started applying for licence at RTOs and people are now following traffic rules strictly. Within a few days of implementation, there has been a lot of improvement, he said adding, “One of the biggest improvements is accidents, which have come down.”

He said such a step of imposing heavy penalties had to be taken as people were not taking the law seriously earlier. Moreover, he said the fines that were fixed 30 years ago would also need to be updated according to the current situation.