West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has shunned any possibility of implementing the 'harsh' penalties.
New Delhi: Amid 'Yes' and 'No' for the freshly amended Motor Vehicles Act, Union transport minister Nitin Gadkari has planned to hold a meeting with the chief ministers of states that have refused to implement the modified Act for regulating traffic.
A senior official on Thursday said the ministry has also sought legal suggestions on provisions under which some states had revised the traffic penalties.
The decision came at a time when Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh became the latest entrants in the group of states that have postponed, slashed or refused the implementation of the updated traffic violation rules.
The objecting states have argued that the refreshed list has prescribed hefty penalties and fines. The states said the fine amount has increased tenfold and were too high.
While BJP-ruled states like Gujarat and Uttarakhand have cut down fines, Opposition-ruled states such as Madhya Pradesh, Kerala and Delhi hinted they would reject the new rules and slash fines.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has shunned any possibility of implementing the “harsh” penalties.
The BJP-administered and poll-bound Maharashtra has put the implementation of the traffic violation fines on hold.
Gadkari’s meeting with CMs would be an effort for stemming this trend. “The minister will call each chief minister and explain the benefits. While initially, we saw lots of backlash on social media, now that too has changed,’’ said the ministry official to Hindustan Times.
Another senior official said that the ministry has prepared a list of offenses under which the states have lowered the fines. The list was sent to the law ministry to seek legal assistance on whether states have the jurisdiction to alter the fines as mentioned under the modified Motor Vehicles Act.
An official explained that Gujarat, the first state to reduce the fines, gave certain exemptions like not making helmets compulsory for pillion riders. The decision taken was beyond its jurisdiction.
“Except for compoundable offenses -- where states are allowed to fix fines -- they cannot change other fines notified under the Motor Vehicles Act. Even under compounding offenses, there are certain fines which the states cannot amend below its capped limit. In fines where the minimum amount has been capped cannot be reduced even if it is a compounding offense. We have sought legal opinion on it,” a transport ministry official told Hindustan Times.
Officials further told that a Supreme Court committee, on whose recommendations several provisions of the act were drafted, is scheduled to meet on Friday, to take into consideration the concerns of the states who have refused to implement the Act.
The Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill which came into effect on September 1, made several far-reaching changes on existing traffic penalty charts.
After the new law, an autorickshaw driver in Bhubaneswar was fined Rs 47,500 for violating several traffic rules; a truck owner from Rajasthan had to pay up Rs 1,41,000 for overloading his vehicle.
At present, 150,000 people die in road accidents, each year, in India.
Union Road Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari admitted that individual states have the right to slash fines at their end, but maintained that they would be responsible for any repercussions arising from such a decision.