Nitin Gadkari defends new Motor Vehicles Act, says states free to decide on penalty rates

Denying any politics behind the sudden lack of support to the bill that was passed duly in both Houses of Parliament, Gadkari maintained that it is up to the states to care for the lives of their people.

Written by September 12, 2019 10:59

New Delhi: Facing severe criticism from the Opposition and BJP-ruled states alike over the amended Motor Vehicles Act, Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari on Wednesday continued to maintain his support for the new law while informing that states have authority to decide on the fine rates.

Gadkari also shied away from commenting on the politics behind opposition by BJP-ruled states.

Denying any politics behind the sudden lack of support to the bill that was passed duly in both Houses of Parliament, Gadkari maintained that it is up to the states to care for the lives of their people.

“It is not about politics or BJP or Congress. If states want to accept the logic behind the amendments, they will implement it. For me, it is not politics,” the minister told ANI.

Several BJP-ruled states, especially in poll-bound Haryana and Maharashtra, have been apparently reluctant to implement the new Motor Vehicles Act.

During the past few years, Gadkari has strongly backed the Act, which is seen as his brainchild. Any hitch to the implementation of the provisions of the Act would be seen as a setback to him.

The Maharashtra government has sent him a letter citing public outcry as a reason on why it wants the Centre to reconsider the new law.

“The Maharashtra transport minister was part of the committee formed to finalise the bill. As far as my discussion with (Devendra) Fadnavis Ji goes, no one told me about it (their disapproval with the bill),” Gadkari said.

The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways on Wednesday issued a notification about compoundable and non-compoundable fines for traffic violations and also left it to states to decide the fine rates.

Gadkari claimed that hefty fines are not a proposal aimed at earning revenue but to ensure lives are not lost.

“State governments can decide on fines. It is not only the responsibility of the central government to save lives, but also of the state government. They will take it in the right spirit,” he said.

The minister took pains to explain the process of what went in to make the bill possible and how it was supported by various political parties.

“When we considered this bill, it was done by a committee that had studied laws of the UK, the US and Canada. There was a debate on this following which we had made a committee under the chairmanship of the then Rajasthan transport minister Yunus Khan.

“There was a group of 20 ministers from various political parties it went through a process and was debated upon and got cleared in the Parliament, ” Gadkari said when asked about what went wrong when the legislation was passed with unanimity.

Advocating the hefty fines levied as per the amended bill for traffic violations, Gadkari said, “Some may also argue that we have increased the death penalty for rape of a minor girl. Some may say it is very strong but why are we implementing it then? Because we want to create fear in them about the law. If you obey law you don’t have to pay a penalty. It’s as simple as that.”

Defending the cases of huge amounts of challans being issued, Gadkari accused the “microscopic” media of highlighting these cases without going into the merits of the cases.

“You spoke about the truck case, the driver didn’t have anything, no driving license nothing. It was overloaded, the driver was drunk. It could have killed people. Should he not be fined? ” asked the minister.

The senior BJP leader said that for the first time the government is thinking about making law for bad roads.

“There is a provision fining contractors for bad laws. If there are potholes, he will face punishment, ” Gadkari said.

The minister also said that his ministry is considering to tie up with private parties to ensure there are enough PUC centres and claimed that the people don’t face harassment at the hands of the traffic police if the society and government decided to uproot corruption.

“I have received a challan. In major cities, there are intelligent traffic systems in place. In some cities, they are in the process to put it. But to root out corruption is the responsibility of government and society, ” Gadkari said.

Asked about Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s claim on ‘studies tell that millennials now prefer to have Ola or Uber’, Gadkari, known for his astute business skills, said that his ministry is charting out a way to uplift the automobile industry with the help of the finance ministry.

The minister went on to say that India would soon emerge as the number one hub in automobile manufacturing.