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New Traffic Rules: Resistance From States

PACHU MENON, Margao

The amended Motor Vehicles Act is getting murkier with every passing day. The news that the BJP-ruled Gujarat government has announced a drastic cut in the penalties for traffic violations even as the Centre is justifying the steep fine amounts under the amended Motor Vehicles Act does come as a whiff of fresh air for the public unduly worried over the prospects of such rules taking firm roots in a system that is already ‘enriched’ with enough avenues for corruption. Taking a cue from Gujarat, Goa’s Transport Minister hinted at reducing certain steep fines brought in by the new Motor Vehicles Act. It is now heard that Karnataka Chief Minister too has decided to adopt the drastic cuts in the harsh fines imposed a la Gujarat. With news that West Bengal and Maharashtra will not implement the amended MV Act, it is as if the entire nation has risen up in arms against the Centre vis-à-vis the new Bill. The Union Road Transport and Highways Minister’s statement that states have the authority to revise fines further confuses matters. The very fact that many state governments are looking for assuaging factors to combat the rigidities of the amended Act makes it more than evident that the Centre has not taken the states into confidence while formulating the revisions. Besides, what purpose does a Bill serve if it is not implemented uniformly across the country? Without the law department giving its nod to the draft notification, empowering enforcement agencies to compound traffic offences, the implementation of the amended MV Act, stipulating the steep traffic fines, may take longer than expected. The competence of the enforcement agencies too will prove to be a stumbling block in the effective execution of the Act. The need to actually differentiate between an offence and an oversight should gain precedence in the normal course of events. As traffic monitors, they are in the best position to judge who should be fined or let off with a stern warning.

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