April 7, 2017
Ratna De Nag speaks on The Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2016
In India, according to the National Crime Records Bureau, 2015, more than 1 lakh people were killed and in 2014, 1 lakh people were injured in road traffic crashes. Government reports indicated a loss of 3% of GDP from 1999-2000 due to road mishaps. It was reported that the total number of road accidents in 2015 were more than 5 lakh, which is 2.5 per cent more than 2014. The National Highways accounted for 29 per cent road accidents in 2015, compared to 29.9% in 2014. The State (West Bengal) registered for 28 per cent deaths last year, and 54.1 per cent of all persons killed in road accidents from the 15-30 years age group during the year 2015. Road transport plays a vital role in the economy of the country. To address the issues faced by the transport sector, the Motor Vehicles Bill, 2016, was introduced in Lok Sabha on August 9, 2016 by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways. These new laws intend to have the number, the dates and the injuries due to due to road accidents by 2020.
The Bill has many good provisions. I would like to mention all the good things. There is cashless treatment for road accident victims, inclusion of goods return guidelines,,empowering the Central Government to recall vehicles, electronic monitoring, national registry for licenses, national registry for license registration, national transportation policy for compensation and insurance, the higher penalties for road-traffic violations.
But, Sir, there are some points which I want to raise. The Bill lacks clarity with regard to the limit to the liability of third party insurance under Section 147 of the Act, and Clause 49 of the Bill. It caps the maximum liability of third party insurance in the case of a motor accident to Rs 10,00,000 and in the case of death to Rs 5,00,000. This implies that the insurance company is liable to pay only upto these specified amounts.
However, the Bill does not cap the compensation amount to be decided by the Courts. If the Court awards compensation amounts higher than the maximum liability prescribed under the Bill, it is unclear who will pay the remaining amount. The need for a new fund is unclear. With a fund already existing for hit-and-run cases, the purpose of the New Motor Vehicles Accident Fund with regard to hit-and-run cases is unclear. For example, there is no clarity.