No person above four will be allowed to ride a two-wheeler or travel pillion without a helmet once the Motor Vehicle (Amendment) Bill, 2016 is passed.
The bill, introduced in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday, also proposes to introduce a mandatory vehicle recall policy in case of defects that “may harm the environment, the driver and the occupants, or other road users”.
Under the altered law, failing to wear a helmet will invite a penalty of Rs 1,000 and suspension of the motorist’s driving licence for three months. Though the existing motor law makes wearing helmets mandatory, it does not specify an age in this regard – providing those transporting young children with a legal loophole. Only Sikhs, who wear turbans, are exempted from the helmet rule.
Besides this, the proposed amendments impose hefty penalties for traffic violations such as jumping the red light and talking on the mobile phone while driving. Under the new vehicle recall provision, the Centre will be empowered to direct the recall of a certain vehicle variant if a defect is brought to its notice by either the manufacturer, a percentage of owners (to be notified by the Centre), or testing agencies.
The manufacturer will be mandated to reimburse the full cost of the vehicle that has been recalled or replace the defective unit with another one of similar or better specifications. Failure to do so will invite a fine. The government will waive off the penalty only if the manufacturer informs the government about the defect on its own, and initiates recall proceedings.
India, the fifth-largest passenger vehicle market in the world, does not have a mandatory vehicle recall policy. There has been a spurt in voluntary vehicle recall in the last few years, with nearly 2.24 million cars being taken back since 2012.
KK Gandhi, executive director (technical), Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (Siam), welcomed the move to make vehicle recall mandatory. “But the government has to put adequate resources in place before the law kicks in,” he said.
Gandhi said Siam, with 48 automobile manufacturers under it, already has a voluntary vehicle recall code in place since 2012. “So far, 2.24 million cars have been voluntarily recalled in India,” he added.