Two days after Union minister Gopinath Munde died in a road accident, the NDA government on Thursday pledged to overhaul the 26-year-old motor vehicle law that it said wasn’t saving lives but spawning corruption instead.
“The law has become antiquated and lost its relevance. We will scrap it and bring in a fresh law. The broad contours of the new law will be ready in a month’s time,” Union transport minister Nitin Gadkari said after a review of road safety regulations. Gadkari told officials at the review that the old law was mostly being used by cops to harass the public and make money.
As part of the overhaul process, Gadkari has directed ministry officials to study how countries such as United Kingdom and Singapore – which have fewer road fatalities compared to India -- tackle traffic violations. “We will study best practices in ten countries before drafting our law,” he said.
India has one of the worst road-safety records in the world, with a road accident every minute and a fatality on the road every three-to-four minutes. Approximately 137,000 people died in road accidents in the country last year alone.
The 1988 Motor Vehicles Act was last amended in 2001. Several committees have been set up since then to recommend changes to the law. In March 2012, the UPA cabinet, for the third time after coming to power in 2004, approved the draft Motor Vehicle Amendment Bill that proposed hefty fines for traffic violations. However, low priority accorded to road safety issues ensured that the bill didn’t get cleared by Parliament.
Gadkari said that the proposed law would provide for greater technology-based interventions to minimize road accidents and check violations. “We want to cut down on human intervention. The reliance would be on sophisticated IT-based systems,” he said.
Road ministry officials said they want the new bill to be ready for introduction in Parliament during the budget session. “We are working on a war footing to draft the new law,” Gadkari said.