The New Motor Vehicles Act, which came into force on September 1, imposed heavy fines for traffic offences across India. The steep hike in penalties, however, invited the wrath of public. Hence, the Motor Vehicles Department officials found it difficult to enforce the penalties.
The public disenchantment has forced many state governments, including those ruled by BJP, to either slash the fine or go slow on implementing the act.
BJP-ruled Gujarat took the lead when it decided to cut the penalty for traffic violations on Tuesday. The new rates will come into force on September 16. BJP ruled Karnataka, Maharashtra and Goa too have decided to dilute the law.
The Kerala government is planning to reduce the penalties by at least 50 per cent.
Other opposition-ruled West Bengal, Kerala, Odisha and Delhi too have raised concern about the hefty fine.
Onmanorama lists how states are planning to implement the new act.
BJP-ruled Gujarat took the lead on Tuesday when it announced to slash the fines. It will come into force from September 16.
"The fine amount for different violations proposed under the Central law is the upper limit. Penalty collection is not our objective. We want people to be safe. We will enforce the law strictly wherever it is needed. We will be lenient wherever needed. That is why we will not impose any fine on pillion-riders," said Chief Minister Vijay Rupani.
Maharashtra Transport Minister Diwakar Raote on Wednesday said the increased penalties will not be enforced in the BJP-ruled state until the amended act is not notified by the state government. He also requested the Union government to reconsider the hefty fines.
Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa said the Gujarat rates will be implemented in the BJP-ruled state.
"We will follow the Gujarat model. I have instructed officials to implement it," he said.
BJP-ruled Goa has decided to first repair all potholes-ridden roads first before starting charging steeper fines from January next year. “It is our moral responsibility to repair the roads first,” Transport Minister Mauvin Godinho said.
The scenario is almost same in non-BJP ruled states – Kerala, West Bengal, Delhi and Odisha.
The Kerala government is planning to slash the penalties by at least 50 per cent. The authorities are mulling the reduction of fines to Rs 500 for not wearing seatbelts or helmets and Rs 2,000 for those travelling without a license. The corresponding fines under the new act were Rs 1,000 and Rs 5,000 respectively.
For smaller offences like not switching on the indicator, wearing low-quality helmets and so forth the fee will be reduced from Rs 500 to Rs 300.
The fine imposed for overloading will be reduced to Rs 10,000 from Rs 20,000. However, the fines for drunk driving and reckless driving may remain the same.
West Bengal has decided not to implement the Act as the hefty fine will overburden the common man.
"We are not implementing the act. We have already initiated 'Safe Drive Save Life' campaign which has yielded good result. We are working with the NGOs so that the campaign reaches everyone," , Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said.
The Delhi government wants to provide respite to people from increased penalties and will take a "conscious" decision, Transport Minister Kailash Gahlot said on Wednesday. He, however, clarified the Delhi government is not mulling to "dilute" the hiked penalties as of now.
The Odisha government will take a call on reducing the quantum of penalty after examining the notifications of other states. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has announced a relaxation on traffic law enforcement for a period of three months following public outrage over the levying of heavy fine.
Gadkari defends the law
Defending the steep penalties under the Motor Vehicles Act, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari said the act was brought in to reduce accidents and save lives. “India witnesses 5 lakh accidents every year, killing 1.5 lakh and crippling another 3 lakh,” he said.
Gadkari said the motive behind heavy fine on traffic violators was to reduce accidents and not making money.
Crediting the new law for bringing road discipline, the minister said many people have now started applying for licence 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.
Under the amended Act, violations such as drunk driving and dangerous driving attract fines of Rs 10,000 and/or imprisonment of six months to two years.
Penalty for driving without licence was increased to Rs 5,000 from Rs 500 earlier, while riding two-wheeler without helmets will not only attract fine of Rs 1,000 but could lead to suspension of licences for the next three months.