Bill to amend Motor Vehicle Act introduced in Lok Sabha
Minister of road transport and highways Nitin Gadkari had to face an embarrassing situation on Tuesday while introducing the bill to amend the Motor Vehicle Act in Lok Sabha as members of Parliament (MPs) complained that a copy of the bill was not circulated among them.
As soon as Gadkari stood to introduce the bill, several MPs opposed the move, stating that as per Parliament Protocol a bill has to be circulated among all the members two days before its introduction, but they were yet to receive a copy of the Motor Vehicle (Amendment) Bill 2016.
Gadkari tried to defend himself, stating, “I want to reduce the number of accidents by 50% in the country and this bill is very important for that to happen… I want this law to be applicable in the current fiscal only. If we further delay it, the bill will become pending for the next session which will be too late.”
But the MPs kept arguing that the Motor Vehicles Act is a voluminous document and cannot be passed in a hurry. All the proposed amendments need to be discussed in Parliament. They also suggested referring the bill to a standing committee after which it can be passed through majority as all MPs are in support of the new measures to reduce road accidents in the country.
In the end, Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan tried to pacify the MPs stating that the copy of the bill was circulated among the house members this morning and they should look into their papers. She allowed the introduction of the bill, stating that the decision whether the bill should be discussed or be referred to a standing committee can be taken later once the MPs have gone through the text.
The Union cabinet had approved the Motor Vehicle (Amendment) Bill 2016 last week to address the issue of road safety and improve the processes for citizens while dealing with transport departments.
In the existing Motor Vehicle Act, there are 223 sections, out of which the Motor Vehicle (Amendment) Bill 2016 aims to amend 68. The amendment bill has deleted chapter 10 and replaced chapter 11 with new provisions to simplify third-party insurance claims and settlement processes.
The bill has been drafted following recommendations by a group of ministers (GoM) headed by Rajasthan transport minister Yunus Khan and comprising 18 transport ministers from different political parties. The GoM had submitted three interim reports to the ministry.
The important provisions of the bill are increase in compensation for hit-and-run cases from Rs.25,000 to Rs.2 lakh and provision of compensation up to Rs.10 lakh in road accident deaths and permitting the states to grant exemptions in stage carriage and contract carriage permits for promoting rural transport, public transport and last-mile connectivity.