Will Gujarat’s tweaking of traffic fines stand the test of law? The Concurrent List explained
New Delhi, Sep 13: In the aftermath of the Centre amending the Motor Vehicle Act, which paved the way for heavy fines, many states have come out and said that they will either not implement the same or will lower the fines.
Gujarat was the first state to lower the fines and this has led the Centre to seek an opinion from the Law Ministry. The Ministry of Road and Transport sought an opinion from the Law Ministry on whether states can tweak the lower limit for fines prescribed in the law.
This would need to be studied further as Road Transport falls under the Concurrent List. This means both the Centre and State are permitted to legislate on the subject.
What is the Concurrent List?
The Concurrent List of List-III (Seventh Schedule) is a list of 52 items given in the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution of India. This list includes the power to be considered both the Central and State Government.
The Concurrent List includes subjects that give powers to both the Centre and State governments. However in case of a dispute on the same subject then the Constitution provides for a central law to override the state law.
Article 254 of the Constitution states that if there is a dispute between the Centre and State on a provision of law which falls under the Concurrent List, then the law made by the Centre will overrule the State law.
Under Section 200 of the MV Act, the States have the power to decide penalties for 24 sections. The States are currently amending those sections relevant to them. However, in the case of Gujarat, experts feel that Article 254 of the Constitution is being violated as they have touched the non-compoundable offences as well. The Gujarat government may find itself on a sticky wicket since it has provided penalties which are lower than what has been prescribed in the M V Act of 1988.
The Road Transport Ministry sought an opinion after the Gujarat government tweaked some of the fines after the Centre amended the Motor Vehicle rules, which imposes stricter penalties for road traffic violations.
In the notification, Gujarat imposed fines below the lower limit prescribed by the M V Act. Further it also altered those fines it is not permitted to change under the Act. Since Road Transport falls under the Concurrent List, the Centre and State are permitted to legislate on the subject.
The Centre had imposed a fine of Rs 1,000 for not wearing a seat belt but had not prescribed the upper and lower limit. The Gujarat government imposed a fine of Rs 500 on the offence.
Further, the Gujarat government also stated that there is no need for a fine if a pillion rider is not wearing a helmet. It also said that an offender will have to pay only of Rs 100 in case there is more than one pillion rider. The Centre, however, imposed a fine of Rs 1,000 on the person riding the bike and also said that this would lead to disqualification of licence for three months.