‘What’s Rs 100?’: Nitin Gadkari on protests against steep traffic fines
This comes in the backdrop of a statewide protest by transport union in New Delhi against hefty fines implemented under the act.Updated: Jul 01, 2020, 22:03 IST
Heavy penalties for traffic violations under the motor vehicle act were introduced to save lives of millions of people and not generate revenue or “play popular politics,” union minister for road transport and highways Nitin Gadkari said Thursday.
This comes in the backdrop of a statewide protest by transport union in New Delhi against hefty fines implemented under the act.
“This question is not about politics, not to say that we are playing popular politics, the question is of the safety of the common man. Lakh and a half people are dying annually, and the highest number of road deaths (65%) that occur in India happen between the age group of 18-35 years. It results in a loss of 2% in our GDP. Do we not have any responsibility towards the homes of those who have lost their young sons or daughters? The fines came 30 years ago,” said Gadkari.
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“What is that value of Rs 100 now. These fines are going in the kitty of state governments not the Centre. We did not implement the law to increase our revenue it was passed so that people don’t break rules, if they don’t, they will not be fined,” the minister said, adding that there cannot be any justification for not following traffic rules.
The Motor Vehicles Amendment Act, 2019 was supported by transport ministers of around 20 states, even those who have opposed the act, and was passed after a lot of consultation, he added.
Gadkari said the law was made adopting best practices from other countries. Post
Post cabinet’s approval, the BJP minister said, it was sent to the Lok Sabha where a standing committee was made and all party members verified it.
“It was again sent to the Lok Sabha and didn’t get Rajya Sabha nod. We again sent it to the Lok Sabha where it was passed unanimously,” he said.
Gadkari added that the objections raised in Parliament were also accepted and included in the final passage of the law.
As many as 63 clauses of the newly amended act pertaining to heftier penalties for traffic violations came into effect from September 1.
This had also prompted states to opt out of hefty penalties provided under the act. Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh joined a growing band of states that say the fines, which have increased in some cases by as much as tenfold, are too high. Gujarat and Uttarakhand, both ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), have already lowered fines while another BJP-administered state, Karnataka, has indicated it will slash penalties soon.
Election-bound Maharashtra has also put the new law on hold and West Bengal has said it will not enforce the new penalties.
“States have the legal provision under the law to change the rate of penalties under compoundable offences and I don’t have a problem with that. We have support from the media and across party lines on it. There is no fear or respect for law. Everyone is aware that we are not supposed to talk on the phone while driving or drive intoxicated but nobody cared about fines...Since these fines increased, your media has reported how people have become so careful and started following traffic rules,” he said.
There has been a steep rise in people applying for driver’s licence and pollution certificates, Gadkari said.
“According to data we have received from states in just 18 days some states have reported as such as 300% hike in people applying for pollution certificates. People are rushing to apply for driving licences. There is electronic enforcement now, even my car was challaned for overspeeding at the Worli sea-link (in Mumbai). No one can be favoured. Everyone has to undergo tests now for getting a licence.
“In countries like America you have to wait months to get it while about 30% DLs in India were bogus; people got them by just sitting at home and that is why so many accidents happen. There was neither respect or fear of law,” Gadkari said.