Drunk drivers causing death should be tried for culpable homicide not amounting to murder and an accident caused by drink driving should be treated as a planned crime and not an act of “negligence”, as is the practice, a parliamentary panel has recommended.
Currently, in most such cases where drink driving results in death, the accused is booked under 304 A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) (causing death due to negligence), punishable with two year jail or fine or both.
The Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture, which reviewed the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2016 tabled its report in the Parliament on Wednesday, paving the way for the early passage of the crucial bill.
Indian roads continue to be one of the deadliest in the world. Of the 1.46 lakh people who lost their lives in road accident in 2015, 4.6% (6755) was caused by drunk drivers.
Highlights of the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2016
- Hefty penalties of up to Rs 10,000 for traffic violation such as jumping red light, talking on mobile phone, drunken driving, etc.
- Penalizing parents of juvenile drivers.
- Taxi aggregators brought under the motor vehicle law.
- Mandatory vehicle recall policy.
- Driving license to be valid for 20 years from the date of issue or until you complete 55 years, whichever is earlier. After that it will be renewed every five years.
- Mandatory registration of vehicles at automobile dealer’s instead of at RTO’s.
- Online issue of learner’s license to be made mandatory.
- Increasing the penalty for overspeeding, drunk driving, underage driving, talking on mobile phone, overloading.
The panel supported almost all the other amendments to the MV bill, proposed by the union road transport and highways ministry. These include a steep hike in penalty for various traffic offences and a host of stringent provision such as penalizing owner/guardian of minor who are caught driving and causing fatal accident. Such parents will have to shell out Rs 25,000 fine and face a jail term of three years for allowing their ward to drive. The registration of their vehicles will also be cancelled.
Cracking the whip on drunk drivers, the committee has recommended that the government may amend the necessary legislations to “include the deaths due to drunken driving as culpable homicide not amounting to murder” which comes under Section 304 of the IPC. Offences under Section 304 are non-bailable and punishable with 10-year jail term or life imprisonment.
However, it is the road transport ministry that will take a final call on whether these recommendations will be incorporated. The bill was referred to the panel last August.
The panel also said that accident committed by drunk drivers should not be “construed as an act of negligence” but treated as a “premeditated commitment of a crime” and the drunk driver should be made punishable under relevant provisions of IPC depending on the consequences of the accident.
The 32-member committee, headed by Trinamool Congress leader Mukul Roy backed the road ministry’s proposal to bring taxi aggregators such as Uber under the ambit of motor vehicle law. However, it has recommended that the power to frame guidelines to control the operations of aggregators should vest with the state and not the central government.