Prescribing body wearable cameras for traffic policemen and RTO officials enforcing the Motor Vehicles Act, a parliamentary panel has said it will check corruption and reduce arbitrariness by enforcement agencies.
A 24-member Select Committee of the Rajya Sabha, after examining the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2017, has recommended enactment of the legislation without any modification, a shot in the arm for the road ministry, which wants its early passage.
The Motor Vehicles Bill aims to bring radical reforms in the transport sector, ranging from hefty fines for traffic rule violations to improving the licensing system.
It also proposes compensation of Rs 5 lakh for grave injuries and steps to check vehicle thefts.The bill, which would amend the nearly 30-year old Motor Vehicle Act, 1988 was passed by the Lok Sabha last year but had got stuck in the Rajya Sabha where the opposition had demanded that it be sent to the Select Committee for proper scrutiny.
It also recommended taking the learners licence test in an online format, adding that if a person has a successful training certificate from an accredited driving training school, he need not appear for a driving test before a licensing authority.
Welcoming the initiative of electronic monitoring and enforcement of road safety by using devices like speed cameras, closed circuit television cameras, speed guns, body wearable cameras and others, it said some states are already using such technologies. It also stressed on the need for sustainable mobility wherein the pedestrians, cyclists and bus users should be the centre of policy making.
"The punishment in case of death in an accident by drunken driver is proposed to be enhanced up to seven years in line with proposed amendments in IPC. Rules will be framed to provide for standards to measure the breath alcohol analysers.
"Appropriate rules may be framed to control the speed of vehicles especially those involved in racing and showing stunts on roads," the committee said.
"The increase of penalties indicates that one need to drive properly because the drivers are causing accidents…. if the states agree for one nation, one permit, one tax then the revenues of the states will increase…The Committee recommends that the long distance buses should invariably have inbuilt toilets," it said.
Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari had said he expects the bill to be passed in the current session.
The Vinay P Sahasrabuddhe-headed committee, considering the "rampant corruption in RTOs and transport sector", also recommended registration of vehicles by dealers and non- production of vehicles at RTOs.
The committee submitted its report with dissent notes from five members of Parliament which includes Pramod Tiwari (Congress), B.K. Hariprasad (Congress), C.P. Narayanan (Communist Party of India (Marxist)), A. Navaneetha Krishnan (All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam) and Manish Gupta (Trinamool Congress).
The committee suggested that the government formulate rules to ensure the safety of a child below the age of four riding on a two-wheeler regardless of socioeconomic situations prevailing in the country. It said: “The punishment in case of death in an accident by a drunken driver is proposed to be enhanced up to seven years in line with proposed amendments in IPC.”
Apart from this, the committee also suggested that a proposal making it mandatory to have two drivers for heavy commercial vehicles running more than 500km be included in the rules.
"Every traffic policeman or RTO official who is enforcing the provisions of Motor Vehicle Act and Rules should have body wearable cameras and the offences recorded should be digitally stored and monitored in the control room. The Committee feels that this will reduce arbitrariness and corruption by the enforcement officials," it said.
The panel said the bill in no way infringes upon the rights of the states, as apprehend by some state governments.
"Considering the rampant corruption in RTOs and transport sector, the Committee feels that the initiative of registration of vehicles by dealers and non-production of vehicles at RTOs may reduce the difficulties of the citizens substantially".
States like Rajasthan, Punjab, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana have already implemented the dealer registration system, it said, adding fear of malpractices by the dealers is out of place as there are very stringent penalties imposed on them for any kind of wrongdoing.
It noted that according to Transparency International, every year Rs 10,000 crore in bribes is collected from truck owners/drivers by various RTOs in the country.
"If we add the licences, registration, payment of taxes, permits, the amount may multiply. Some other assessments have put Rs 23,000 crore as annual corruption deals by the RTOs," it noted.