With the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2019 coming into effect from September 1, a few states like West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Punjab, Jharkhand and Maharashtra have denied imposing a stricter fine on traffic violations and states like Karnataka, Dehradun, Gujarat and Kerala have revised the penalties and reduced it. The new traffic rules are expected to make the roads safer for commuters, the long queues will get reduced, and it will bring behavioural change among the citizens. The states which diluted the fine have made a blunder.
In India, the legislature makes very strong laws but the implementation is weak. If, for once, a few fringe elements protest against the law, the government quickly amends (read dilutes) the law. Ultimately, people get what they want and humour on the rule of law continues.
The Indian discourse: always fight paying heavy traffic fines at home but pay them willingly abroad. Then abuse India for having terrible road behaviour. Destroy every measure of scholarship at home, then look abroad to the finest colleges, and abuse India’s ‘bad system’. Nice.
— HindolSengupta (@HindolSengupta) September 12, 2019
Union Minister for Road, Transport, and Highways defended the newly imposed higher penalty and said :
“There is no respect or fear of the law. Is fine more important that peoples lives? If you don’t break the law, you will not get fined.”
He also clarified that the government’s intention behind the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2019 is to save people’s lives as India has one of the highest rates of accident death rates in the world. “The government’s intention is not to fine people to earn more revenue… I have said this many times that in India 5 lakh accidents take place, 1.5 lakh people lose their lives …which is the highest in the world,” said Gadkari.
The new penalties can be used to reduce the number of deaths as well as make people abide by the law. But the states chose to ignore the benefits for political gains.
Tamil Nadu implemented hefty fine and stricter regulation before the central government implemented new rules, witnessed a substantial reduction in road accidents and traffic rule violations.
In the post- Independence period, India has been proclaimed as a ‘libertarian land’ by the political commentator. Despite having a plethora of laws, the law implementation was awful, at least in northern states.
Following the law is not considered ‘cool’ in the country, given the fact; one can get away very easily after breaking the law. The worst exhibition of lawlessness was on roads having instances like driving without helmet, not carrying the driving license, drink and drive, overloading and over speeding is the new ‘normal’ in our country.
If the violator is caught by traffic police, either they pay the minimum fine or just get away by bribing. Due to this lawlessness on roads, lakhs of people die every year in accidents. India has one of the highest death rates per vehicle among developing countries because an insignificant percentage of people follow the traffic rules.
The long hours of traffic jams faced by daily commuters, long queues of vehicles on highways is due to noncompliance with traffic rules, although, this is not the sole contributor.
The Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2019 will bring ‘behavioural changes’ among citizens and the humour on the rule of law will decline. The humour on the ‘rule of law’ must stop if we want to make a law-abiding society and nation. A nation where Ram Rajya is considered ideal for the country, the rule of law could not be taken lightly, because Ram Rajya is all about ‘rule of law’.