Highlights of the Bill

  • The Carriage by Road Bill aims to regulate all service providers in the business of booking and transporting goods (common carriers). The Bill replaces the Carriers Act, 1865.
  • Every common carrier has to be registered. In case of rejection of an application for registration, an appeal may be filed with the State Transport Appellate Tribunal.
  • The Bill seeks to fix the liability of common carriers. It also sets norms for documentation in the transportation business and fixes rules for compensation in case of unclaimed goods.
  • It is the responsibility of the carrier to ensure that all hazardous goods being transported are insured. The central government may ban the carriage of certain goods.
  • The Bill seeks to ensure that statistics regarding the sector are regularly collected and reported.

Key Issues and Analysis

  • The registering authorities have discretionary powers to assess the competence of common carriers. It is not clear whether the process is one of "registration" or of "licensing".
  • Truckers running their own business need two registrations - one under the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 and the other under this Bill. Courier companies will come under the ambit of this Bill, in addition to the authority proposed in the draft Indian Post Office (Amendment) Bill, 2006.
  • Common carriers need to be separately registered with the registering authorities at their head office and all branch offices. This requirement could make the registration process cumbersome.
  • The Bill requires a common carrier to obtain prior approval if the main office is to be shifted. This requirement, as opposed to reporting the change of address, could be a source of delay and corruption.
  • The liability of a common carrier is limited to Rs 10,000 for goods lost or damaged, even if their declared value is higher.
  • On complaints against a common carrier, the registering authority issues a notice to rectify the error. This may be issued without any enquiry into the validity of the complaint.

Read the complete analysis here