LS OKs Motor Bill with hefty fines

The Lok Sabha has passed the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill which seeks to reduce crashes, deaths and injuries on roads and bring reforms in road transport sector. The proposed legislation, which will go to the Rajya Sabha for its approval, has provisions of making stringent penalties for traffic violations, checking fake driving licences and introducing measures to protect good samaritans.

The bill also has provisions of making vehicle-makers responsible for design defects, recall of faulty vehicles and also holding road owning and maintenance agencies or contractors accountable for road deaths and injuries on account of flaws on their part. Such agencies will have to cough up fines up to Rs.1 lakh as fine.

While most provisions were largely welcomed by members, there were reservations about government indirectly putting a cap on insurance compensation where victims or their kin agree to Rs.5 lakh for death and Rs.2.5 lakh for grievous injuries.In these cases, they can't pursue the case in Motor Vehicles Claims Tribunal. This has come under criticism from different quarters, though government claims in more than 70% cases the average compensation awarded by the tribunal is less than Rs.5 lakh.

Road transport minister Nitin Gadkari said those who don't accept the compensation offered by insurance companies will be free to pursue the case in MACT and in those cases the insurance companies will pay the entire award amount.

Gadkari said it would not be possible to increase the third party compensation in case of death to Rs.20 lakh as it would entail substantial hike in insurance premium.

Annually, at least 5 lakh road crashes take place claiming around 1.5 lakh lives.

Replying to the debate, the minister assured the members that his ministry would make all efforts to eliminate corruption in the transport sector.

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