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Home » motor vehicles act: After Gujarat, Uttarakhand reduces traffic fines, more may follow | India News
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motor vehicles act: After Gujarat, Uttarakhand reduces traffic fines, more may follow | India News

NEW DELHI: Most of the states are considering notifying lesser fines for traffic offences than the stiff penalties in the amended Motor Vehicles Act, barely a day after the Gujarat government announced reductions between 25 and 90%, arguing that this was needed on “humanitarian” grounds.
States like Bihar, Goa, Odisha, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Kerala and Uttarakhand have called for reduced fines and there seems to be a similar sentiment in several other states with state transport secretaries discussing their next course action in informal interactions on the newly legislated MV Act amendments.
On Wednesday, the Uttarakhand cabinet approved reductions in traffic violation penalties even as Union transport minister Nitin Gadkari said states are free to notify their own fines for traffic offences while reminding them that the intention behind the new rules and fines is to save lives.

“We are implementing this to create fear and respect for the law. It is not a revenue earning scheme. Are you not worried about the annual death of 1.5 lakh people in road accidents and majority of them are in 18 to 35 years age group?” Gadkari asked at an event without naming any state government.
Asked if he has talked to any state, Gadkari told TOI, “There is no need to speak to states on what they notify as we have already talked to them. The states and Centre have equal responsibility to save lives of people. We had taken all states on board and their transport and chief secretaries too before the law came into force. We all need to work to save lives.”
Road safety experts said the steep reduction in fines by Gujarat can become a template for other states. “If all of them follow this, the intent of the law to increase compliance of rules will be completely lost,” said Piyush Tiwari of Save Life Foundation.
Central government officials said people lining up for pollution check of their vehicles, increase in the number of applications for driving licences and renewal of motor insurance after the new rules kicked in clearly show how a strong law and high fines can make violators fall in line. “Now we could be back to square one,” said an official.
But even invoking a high number of deaths and an estimated 3% GDP loss on account of road accidents did not seem to prevent states from voicing concerns. An informal discussions between state officials have seen questions being raised over whether they were being made “scapegoats” for notifying fines in accordance to the central law. States like Karnataka, Odisha, Bihar and Kerala had notified the fines but are having a rethink now, with pressure mounting after Gujarat, a major BJP-ruled state, changing tack.
There are about 24 compoundable offences under the amended MV Act and states are empowered to fix the fines. In such cases, a violator can pay fine on the spot. On the contrary, serious offences such as drunk driving, juvenile driving, jumping traffic signal and driving against flow of traffic are non-compoundable. In these violations, states can’t tweak fines and offenders need to appear before a court. Gujarat has reduced fines even for some offences in the non-compoundable category, which has surprised most state transport commissioners.
Transport ministry officials said they will seek legal opinion on whether any state can reduce traffic fines where the amended central law has notified minimum penalties for an offence. Maharashtra transport minister Diwakar Raote on Tuesday wrote to Gadkari seeking reduction in fines and amending the law. Interestingly, transport ministers from both Gujarat and Maharashtra were part of the Group of Ministers (state transport ministers) that went through each section of the Motor Vehicles Amendment Bill and approved them before it was introduced in Parliament.
(With inputs from Pankaj Doval in Delhi, Kautilya Singh from Dehradun, Sujit Bisoyi from Bhubaneswar, Bindiya Chari from Goa & Abhay Singh from Patna)

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