The Motor Vehicle Amendment Act, 2019 (hereinafter referred to as ‘Act’), has received a mixed response from the general public after it has introduced hefty fines and has classified new offences. While many have welcomed the move stating apprehension of new fines will ensure better safety, several others have frowned upon the same believing that it may lead to corruption and mismanagement.
The Motor Vehicle Bill, 2019, was passed with great consensus, states such as West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Punjab, Jharkhand and Maharashtra have out rightly denied imposing the new fines. Some states have accepted the amendment and notified the new Act accordingly. However, there are some other states who are still deliberating over the same.
The Act has recognized some new offences such as dangerous driving, offences relating to accident, racing and speeding. It has also recognized offences such as blocking the way for an emergency vehicle, not wearing seat belts in the rear seat of the vehicle, and violations by web based cab service operators to be punished with fines. For offences like not wearing a helmet and driving despite disqualification of license, the fines have been increased by 10 times to the fines prescribed under the old Motor Vehicle Act, 1988. In general, the penalties have been increased by 500% to 1000%.
Current situation in National Capital
Nearly five months after the Act has come into existence, the Delhi Traffic Police appears to be still confused on the imposition of fines. As the Act has been accepted by the Delhi Government, the traffic cops are issuing fines according to the new Act. However, as the notification as required Section 200 of the Motor Vehicle Act, 1988 regarding compounding powers of the police is still pending, the offences booked by them are in accordance with the old Motor Vehicle Act, 1988 but the fines levied are as per the new Act. The general public is being victimized due to this confusion. They are now paying the increased amount of fine but are still being held for offences according to the old Motor Vehicle Act, 1988.
Also, as the notification under the Act is pending, the challans issued by the police are to be now settled in courts. The same is a difficult task for both the Delhi Traffic Police and the public. Now they have to keep attending the courts to follow up on the status of the challans. Therefore, to check whether the challans have been settled or not has been a difficult task for the Traffic Police.
Imposition of fines by the Delhi traffic police, under the new Act, gives rise to the significant question of its validity. If the Act is yet to notify the offences for which fines can be imposed or the share of fines are to be collected from the violators, the authorization of the police to collect fines under the Act is in question. The delay by the Delhi government is stimulating unregulated powers in the hands of the police which can adversely affect the public.
 Hindustan Times, 20th September,2019