Union Minister Nitin Gadkari on Thursday defended hefty fines under new Motor Vehicle Act, saying the government's intention was not to impose heavy penalties on people but to bring road discipline for preventing loss of lives through accidents.
After the Motor Vehicle Act (2019) came into effect from Sunday, reports have said a two-wheeler rider was fined Rs 23,000 in Gurugram for various norms violations, while a truck driver was given challan for Rs 59,000.
"The government does not wish to fine people. The thing is that a time should come that nobody has to pay such fines," Gadkari, who is the highways and road transport minister said here on the sidelines on SIAM annual conclave.
He was responding to query on how such hefty penalties were justified.
Referring to an instance of a drunken auto rickshaw driver, Gadkari asked, "If there is an accident then who would be responsible for that?"
On some states such as West Bengal and Madhya Pradesh refusing to implement the new Act, he said the subject is in the concurrent list and when this Act was formed after a committee of state transport ministers, coming from seven political parties, had recommended it.
"It even went to a standing committee in Parliament, which gave its suggestions and then it was approved," the minister added.
Stressing on the need to have strict penalties for traffic norms violations, Gadkari said, "In the country, there are 5 lakh accidents happening each year, around 1.5 lakh people die. Should we not save these lives? If there is no respect for the law of the land and there is no fear as well, then it is not a good thing".
The government has notified 63 provisions of the Motor Vehicles Amendment Act 2019, including the ones dealing with enhanced penalties for various traffic offences, from September 1.
The 63 clauses deal with penalties, licences, registration and National Transport Policy, among others. The new law enhances penalty for unauthorised use of vehicles without licence to Rs 5,000 from up to Rs 1,000.
Besides, the penalty for driving without license will be increased from up to Rs 500 to Rs 5,000. The new rules also enhance penalty for drunken driving to imprisonment up to 6 months and/or fine up to Rs 10,000 for first offence and imprisonment up to 2 years and/or fine of Rs 15,000 for second offence.
Besides, the new rules enable state governments to designate any person /agency as the enforcement agency to detect and impose penalty on overloaded vehicles. The Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill 2019 was passed by Parliament in July.