Those caught driving with fake driving licenses could spend up to a year in jail, besides being fined Rs 10,000, if the proposed Road Transport and Safety Bill goes through in the next parliament session.
The proposed law is an attempt to crack down on ‘bogus’ licenses in India, of which there are over five crore, according to official data. This means that almost every third driving licence is a fake document.
Aside from upping the penalty from a Rs 500 fine and three months in jail, the proposal also puts in strict norms in case of juvenile offenders. If caught, the guardian of the minor or the vehicle owner will face up to three years in jail and a fine of Rs 20,000. The vehicle registration may also be cancelled.
In case of grievous injuries or death, the juvenile will be sentenced to a Children’s Home. If the minor has been previously charged for any offence under the Motor Vehicles Act, then there will be no provision for bill.
“In India, 30% of the licences are bogus. We need to check it. We are going to start an online system where computerised tests will be conducted to obtain driving licences. Everyone, whether a politician, an official or celebrity, will have to take the test to get the licence. There will be complete transparency,” Union road transport and highways minister, Nitin Gadkari said.
An official said the ministry collated data of about 18 crore licences, of which an estimated 5.4 crore fall under the ‘bogus’ category. An earlier government survey of about six crore driving licences had found nearly 74 lakh fake ones.
Citing that an estimated 1.5 lakh people die in road accidents every year, Gadkari said bill is key to making Indian roads safer as it will overhaul the entire system, including issuance of driving licences.
“We are hopeful that the bill will get passed in the next session of Parliament with states on board now on this matter as the subject falls in the concurrent list.”
Gadkari, however, accused the opposition of stalling the bill due to “vested interests” in regional transport offices who are opposed to “transparency and computerisation”.
A group of ministers, headed by Rajasthan transport minister, Yunoos Khan, submitted its preliminary report that proposes hefty penalty for traffic violations.
The final report is expected by the next month, after which the bill should be passed in Parliament.
The GoM, tasked to frame the Bill to make significant modifications to the Central Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, has come out with several other suggestions for stricter punishment for the rule breakers. The group includes seven transport ministers from various states, including Karnataka, Rajasthan, Goa and Haryana.
Once the bill goes through, the government plans to set up 5,000 new driving centres.