Bill will unleash radical reforms in transport sector. Sources say that a corrupt RTO lobby is working  to block the reformist Bill, through the opposition parties.

 

The fate of a progressive Bill, which may bring about radical changes in transport management and improve road safety norms in India, hangs in balance as it could not get the nod of Rajya Sabha in the monsoon session. The Bill aims at substantially reducing the number of accidents, which claim 1.5 lakh lives every year.

The Motor Vehicles Act (Amendment) Bill 2017 was passed by the Lok Sabha in April last year. Though the Bill was introduced in Rajya Sabha during the monsoon session, the opposition parties moved more than a dozen amendments, which forced the government to defer the discussion and passage of the Bill.

The Bill is expected to unleash radical reforms in the transport sector by ensuring 100% e-governance, checking bogus driving licences and vehicle thefts and slapping heavy penalty on traffic violators. The Bill was passed by a voice vote after several opposition amendments were rejected. The Congress has opposed the Bill terming it as a “sell-out to corporates in the name of road safety”. Some other parties like TMC and BJD contended that the amendments were meant to abrogate the states’ powers. However, sources said that a strong, corrupt RTO lobby is working hard to block the reformist Bill, through the opposition parties.

The Bill seeks to save lives by ushering in drastic reforms in the motor vehicles law to slap heavy penalty on traffic violators, protecting Good Samaritans and making vehicle-makers responsible for design defects to reduce road accidents. The basic aim of the Bill, according to the government, is “to save human lives”, as about 5 lakh accidents take place every year, claiming around 1.5 lakh lives across the country. It also provides for a National Road Safety Board.

Once the changes are incorporated in the law, it would be impossible for anyone, including VIPs like politicians, to obtain driving licence without tests. “Even as a minister, I would not be able to obtain a driving licence sitting at home,” Union Transport Minister Gadkari had said in the Lok Sabha.

The Bill also seeks to make services like issuance of licence completely transparent and online and provides for punitive action against officials in case of delay in issuing of the document to eligible applicants.

Under the new system, everyone will have to go to the licence issuing authorities under a uniform procedure and if it is not issued in three days, then the RTO will have to face action. A learner’s licence can be availed online sitting at home.

The existing Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, has proved to be ineffective in enforcing road safety regulations. The revised Bill, introduced by Gadkari, proposes 68 amendments along with introducing 28 new Sections to the existing Act.

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