Starting September 1, penalties have been hiked to curb road accidents following the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill 2019, which was passed in the Parliament more than a month ago. The fines are much higher than what they used to be, clearly intended to act as a deterrent for on-road negligence. Given the loss of innocent lives every day on account of someone else breaking the law, this amended bill to make our roads safer should rightly be welcomed by one and all.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite work like that in politics. Opposition-ruled states like West Bengal and Rajasthan have chosen not to implement it and surprisingly, Gujarat, ruled by the BJP, has also followed suit seeking a report from the RTO. The reasons cited are that the fines are too steep and therefore unaffordable. Since many cannot pay them, it will lead to more corruption. Such an argument not just defies logic, it is bizarre. Why should a fine be affordable? It is meant to act as a deterrent. Making it affordable will negate the objective.
Let’s be clear. A fine needs to be paid only if one breaks the law. It is not a mandatory tax for all. No one will force a fine on you if you follow road rules while driving. If you are callous enough to violate the law, you deserve to pay the price. Why empathise with the law-breaker instead of worrying about the safety of innocent lives?
The focus of our ruling class should be to make roads safe, prevent loss of innocent lives caused by drunken driving. Or accidents on account of drivers engaging with their mobile phones behind the wheel. Or violating traffic signals. Or speeding beyond the prescribed limit. All of which can lead to accidents causing loss of limb or life. For a family which loses a loved one or which lives with a member incapacitated by an accident, their life changes forever. It is irreversible. Nothing can be more painful. Now, when the law has finally been amended to check such violations by enforcing higher penalties, it is a much needed change which, frankly, should have been implemented earlier.
Why bring politics into areas which involve public safety? If the government of the day is not able to do the right thing, the courts need to step in soon and set things right. It is about life and limb, no politics here, please.