Stringent traffic rules of new motor vehicle law leave many states at crossroads

Representative purpose only. Photo: iStock

The stringent rules and hefty fines prescribed under the newly-enforced Motor Vehicles Act has discouraged several state governments including even a handful of BJP-ruled states from implementing the new traffic guidelines in their states.

While most of the states have fallen in line with the Centre’s amended law, states like Gujarat, Rajasthan, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Telangana, and Maharashtra are yet to implement it. Gujarat and Maharashtra have said that they will implement the law only after studying its viability. As many as 63 new clauses were added to the amended Act that came into force on September 1.

Maharashtra transport minister Diwakar Raote on Thursday (September 5) said the state government was not in favour of penalising traffic rule violators with hefty fines under the new Act. “We have taken our decision that we are not of the opinion to penalise traffic rule violators with hefty challans. I am personally too against the move,” PTI quoted him as saying. The Maharashtra government has made it clear that the state government was free to take its own decision on the implementation of the Act.

Expressing its reservations over the hefty taxes, the BJP-ruled Gujarat government said that the fines were not feasible for the common masses and that the government would only implement new norms if it gets a convincing report from the RTO.

Also read: New traffic rules ring alarm bells among deviant motorists

The sceptics

While non-BJP states like West Bengal and Madhya Pradesh have refused to implement the new regulations, others like Telangana, Punjab, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, irked by the hefty penalties mandated by the Act, are still studying its feasibility.

In Telangana, a police officer, as per a report by The News Minute, said that the government wanted commuters to be better prepared before the amended Act was brought into force, and ensure that it wasn’t an inconvenience to citizens.

In a statement earlier this week, principal secretary of Telangana state transport department, Sunil Sharma said the government was taking stock of the quantum of penalties and other modalities under the Act and that it was in touch with its counterparts in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala.

The Congress-ruled Madhya Pradesh government has stated that it will implement the Act only after discussions. “Centre has made a steep hike in fine for violating traffic rules and the state government will implement the Act only after discussions,” Zee News quoted state public relations minister PC sharma as saying.

Also read: Don’t have a driving licence? Then pay ₹5000 fine under new traffic laws

He said the state government is consulting with the Centre on the possibility of decreasing the penalties, adding that the government will first launch an awareness programme across the state before implementing the new Act.

While the Mamata Banerjee government in West Bengal said it does not agree with a few of the provisions of the new Act, the Rajasthan’s transport minister Pratap Singh Khachariyawas said the state will not implement the law without reviewing the penalty amount. “Motorcycle is the common transport vehicle of the common people and it is not practical to impose hefty fine on it. In some cases, penalty is more than cost of the vehicle,” he said.

The Punjab government meanwhile has decided to stick to the old Motor Vehicle Act and the old-penalty system. “In a welfare state like India, the idea behind such kind of penalties was to deter people from violating traffic rules, not to increase the state treasury,” a Times Now News report quoted Razia Sultana, the state transport minister as saying.

Compliant states

The amended Act is being reinforced in BJP-ruled states like Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, Haryana, Jharkhand and Manipur, since day one.

Police in Manipur found an innovative way to sensitise commuters on traffic rules, instead of levying hefty fines on errant drivers. Drivers flouting traffic norms were first asked to push their vehicles to a considerable distance and then offered sweets by police in Churachandpur of Manipur, as part of an awareness drive in the hill town. They were later sensitised on traffic rules.

With strict enforcement in full swing in Jharkhand, the Ranchi police on Thursday (September 5) recommended the district transport department to suspend the driving licences (under section 19 of the amended Act) of almost 203 people for three months. These traffic offenders were all caught and fined for violating various traffic rules, including not wearing helmets, under the amended motor vehicles Act from September 3.

Also read: Maharashtra, Kerala govts to encourage more women drivers

Transport departments of complying states such as Odisha and Haryana, on Thursday (September 5) saw a whopping collection of ₹ 1.41 crore through challans in a span of four days.

“As per information from Odisha Motor Vehicles Department, a total of 4,080 challans have been issued for violations of traffic laws with total collection of ₹88.90 lakh,” a road transport and highways official said as per a PTI report. In addition 46 vehicles were seized there.

The report said almost 343 challans were issued for violations with collection of ₹52.32 lakh in Haryana. Meanwhile in 3,900 challans were issued in Delhi on the first day of implementation.