In a move that will have far reaching consequences, the new Motor Vehicles act likely to be passed in the upcoming winter session of Parliament puts in place a mandatory policy for recalling defective cars, thereby empowering consumers to initiate a recall in case a manufacturer is reluctant to do so.
The proposals that were made public on Saturday also provides for penalties when a car or a two-wheeler company is found to have delayed a recall. Manufacturers may be also fined `5 lakh per vehicle in case of production defects. It may also attract imprisonment of 3 months. Recalls would be mandated by a national authority.
“The authority shall have the power to order a recall of all motor vehicles of a particular model where a defect has been reported by a hundred or more people and which may cause harm to the driver or passengers of that model or to other road users,” according to the new draft Road Transport and Safety Bill, 2014. “A manufacturer whose vehicles are subject to an order of recall may be obliged to compensate buyers of the full value of the vehicle, replace or repair the defective model with another vehicle of similar or better specifications or pay fines as may be specified in the regulations.”
India reports the highest number of casualties due to road accidents every year and the need for a mandatory recall policy on the lines of developed markets has been felt for a long time. Activists have welcomed the provisions in the Bill.
“For the first time, there are provisions in the law to hold accountable and punish agencies and individuals responsible for faulty road design and engineering, an inportant cause of road deaths but rarely looked at,” said Piyush Tewari, founder and president, SaveLIFE Foundation, an independent non-profit, non-government organisation. “What remains to be seen is whether the lead agency proposed would be independent enough to stand up to political pressures.”
Industry body, the Society of Indian Automobile Manufactur–ers, had put in place a voluntary code for recalling cars in 2012 that has seen over 700,000 cars being recalled in the last 2 years.
“The new draft has been prepared incorporating the best practices in six advanced nations — US, Japan, Germany, UK, Singapore and Australia,” road transport minister Nitin Gadkari had said on Friday.
The Act also call for fitness tests for all cars and two-wheelers every five years to ensure better maintenance of the vehicles.