The cabinet is likely to this week approve proposed amendments in the three-decades-old motor vehicles law, to turn around India’s reputation as a country with one of the world’s deadliest roads.
The Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill seeks to amend more than five dozen sections and introduce more than 20 new sections. It aims to revamp the transportation rules and improve road safety through steps such as stiff penalties for traffic rule violations, upgrade of technology, and curbing corruption.
The bill was approved by the Lok Sabha in 2017 but failed to muster support in the Rajya Sabha. The transport ministry hopes to get the bill, which lapsed with the dissolution of the 16th Lok Sabha last month, passed in the Parliament session beginning Monday.
“The draft bill is with the law ministry right now. We should be able to get Cabinet approval this week, after which it will be tabled in Parliament," a senior government official said.
The transport ministry did not suggest any additional amendments beyond what had been suggested earlier, said the official mentioned above, requesting anonymity.
The bill will also have provisions to promote alternative technology and innovation in line with the Union government’s focus on promotion of electric vehicles as one of the ways to curb vehicular pollution, the official said.
As many as 146,000 people died in road accidents in India in 2015, according to the road transport and highways ministry. About 300,000 people were injured in road accidents in the same year.
The bill also proposes higher penalties in case of violations such as driving without a license, speeding, dangerous driving, and drunk driving as part of measures to promote safety on the roads.
The proposed amendments will seek to ensure that citizens who come forward and rescue accident victims are not harassed. The bill also caps the maximum liability for third party insurance at ₹10 lakh if there is a fatality and ₹5 lakh in case of serious injury because of an accident.
If the amendments become a reality, it will also make Aadhaar mandatory for obtaining a driving licence and for vehicle registration.
It also proposes different categories for validity of driving licence, depending on the age of the applicant. For instance, the validity of the driving license will be 10 years if the license holder is between 30-50 years, as opposed to 20 years right now.
“Linking Aadhaar with the licence is a great move as it will ensure that there is no duplicity or fake licences," Vishwas Udgirkar is Partner- Government Utilities Infrastructure Development At Deloitte India.