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Sanjeev Kumar Patro

Bhubaneswar: With PM Modi's home State Gujarat showing the way, Odisha, which has already expressed its willingness to do a surgery on the amended Motor Vehicles Act (MVA), may soon follow suit.

However, the States cannot go for a through surgery of the MVA 2019 provisions. The states cannot do any tinkering with regard to certain offences declared as non-compoundable under the MVA - 2019 like drunk driving, Juvenile driving and jumping traffic signals. The MVA -2019 has hiked the penalty amount for drunk driving to Rs 10,000 from Rs 2,000.

Similarly, a penalty amount of Rs 25,000  with 3-years imprisonment for the owner of the vehicle will be imposed for letting a juvenile to undertake unauthorised driving. And the juvenile will be tried under Juvenile Justice (JJ) Act.

Disobeying or jumping the traffic signal (Red light) will also draw a penalty amount of Rs 5,000 under the new MVA.

Since the above offences are under non-compoundable category, State governments, including Odisha, cannot go for any dilution.

What is Non-compoundable offence? These are some offences, which cannot be compounded (means compromised). They can only be quashed. The reason for this is the nature of offence is considered grave and criminal, and the accused cannot be allowed to go scot-free.

However, what raised eyebrows is reduction of penalty amount by the Gujarat government with regard to wrong side driving, which is a non-compoundable offence. 

Similarly,  pruning of the penalty on triple riding by adults to mere Rs 100 from Rs 1000 is seemingly beyond comprehension.

The reason: these are the factors that constitute major chunk of accidents in the country.

Here are details about the tweaks in penalty rates the Gujarat Government has made post the new Motor Vehicles Act coming into effect:

1) The penalty for not wearing a helmet is changed to Rs 500 against Rs 1000 under the MV Act.

2) For not wearing seat belts Rs 500 will be the penalty against Rs 1000.

3) A fine of Rs 2000 for the two-wheelers and Rs 3000 for the rest for driving without Driving License (DL) against Rs 5000 under the new rule.

However, if the license, insurance, PUC, RC book are not there, the fine will be as per the new Motor Vehicles Act. For the first time, Rs 500 will be fined and second time penalty to be Rs 1000.

4)Driving a vehicle not conforming to emission norms draws a fine of Rs 10,000 under the new MV Act, But Gujarat reduced it to Rs 1000 for small vehicles and Rs 3000 for large vehicles.

Again , observers didn't comprehend the logic behind relaxation on fine amount for large polluting vehicles as specified above in section (4). This showed the State government there has apparently succumbed to lobby from Heavy Motor Vehicle Owners Association.

Road safety observers in Odisha are of the opinion that the State Government has to adopt such a calibrated approach to the MVA 2019, whereby, there should be no compromise with MVA violations that contribute to accidents in the State in a big way.

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