New Delhi, Aug 9 A bill proposing hefty penalties for violating traffic rules to curb road accidents was introduced in Lok Sabha today amid protests from the Opposition which said its copies were not circulated to them in advance, as per practice.
Congress, TMC and Left members urged Speaker Sumitra Mahajan not to allow Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari to introduce the Motor Vehicle (Amendment) Bill saying it will otherwise set a "bad precedent". But she overruled their objections, noting that Gadkari was only tabling it and discussion would occur later.
Gadkari contended that road safety was not only his but also the responsibility of other members and said the bill's early passage in Lok Sabha was necessary so that it could be moved to the Rajya Sabha for passage during the ongoing session, which ends on Friday. "I am ready to accept you suggestions. More lives could be lost if a lot of time passes before it is passed," he said.
Leader of Congress Mallikarjun Kharge said the bill should be sent to a parliamentary committee for threadbare discussion as it was an important legislation. Opposing its introduction, Saugata Roy (TMC) said the practise is to circulate a bill among members two days before its introduction but he and other members had not received it.
"Let it be circulated. This scrappy work by the ministry should not be condoned by Parliament. If you allow, it will set a bad precedent," he told the Speaker. Mohammad Salim (CPI-M) said he had received the bill only this morning and added that he needed time to study the voluminous legislation.
Making a strong plea, Gadkari cited huge number of road accidents which claimed over 1.5 lakh lives annually, as he urged the members to support the introduction of the bill. Kharge said they are "enthusiastic" to support his measures but he should go by the rules.
Gadkari said the measure had been pending for over a year and incorporates suggestions of 18 transport ministers of various states belonging to different political parties and called for its quick passage. Mahajan allowed him to introduce the bill amid "no, no" remarks by several opposition members.
The Motor Vehicle (Amendment) Bill 2016 proposes hefty penalties for violation of traffic norms including up to Rs 10,000 fine for drunken driving and Rs 2 lakh compensation for hit-and-run cases. The bill also has provision of up to Rs 10 lakh compensation in case of road fatality. The bill includes penalties in the range of Rs 1000-4000 for over-speeding.
According to the bill, driving without insurance will be punishable with Rs 2,000 fine and/or three- month imprisonment, while driving a two-wheeler without helmet will attract Rs 2,000 fine and 3-month suspension of license.
The provisions also include that guardian/owner will be deemed to be guilty in case of road offense by juveniles while registration of the vehicle will be canceled.