Highlights of the Bill

  • The Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2008 aims to amend the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988.
  • The Bill enhances penalties for offences, and provides different penalties for first and subsequent violations.
  • The Bill gives increased powers to state governments in matters such as regulating stage and contract carriages, in regulating service operators, and creation of authorised testing stations.
  • Automobile associations recognised by state governments shall be allowed to issue driving certificates. Those holding driving certificates may be exempted from a driving test for the issue of a license.
  • The Bill changes the method of awarding compensation for motor accident claims. If the fault of the driver is sought to be established, the claim shall be decided by the civil court or Motor Accident Claims Tribunal. If the claimant does not seek to establish the fault of the driver, compensation shall be based on the victim’s income and age.

Key Issues and Analysis

  • Any authority empowered to check a driver’s license can suspend it on the spot if the driver fails a breath analyser test. The Bill does not specify either the process by which a driver can defend himself or that of appeal.
  • The courts have the power to estimate and award compensation for motor accident cases where the driver’s fault is established. However, the Bill does not specify guidelines for computing compensation. This can lead to a wide divergence in amounts awarded by different courts.
  • Also, the Bill does not specify any limit on compensation if the driver is not at fault, unlike in the provisions of the Principal Act.
  • The Bill introduces a fine for rash and negligent driving. The Standing Committee recommended an additional increase in the term of imprisonment provided under the Indian Penal Code, 1860.
  • The Bill seeks to make a consignor liable for over-loading of goods.Several countries seek to make only the driver or the owner liable.

Read the complete analysis here