Leaders of all parties today decided to send the Motor Vehicles Bill, which aims to usher in far-reaching reforms in the transport sector, to a Select Committee of the Rajya Sabha, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari said. “In the meeting of the leaders of all parties of Rajya Sabha today, chaired by Deputy Chairman P J Kurien, many of the parties sought more time to study the Motor Vehicles Bill, 2017 in view of very few days left in the current session. It was decided to send the Bill to the Rajya Sabha Select Committee,” Road Transport and Highways Minister Gadkari said after the all-party meeting here.
He said it has been agreed that the Select Committee, which would be appointed today, will give its report on the first day of the Winter Session and all the parties have assured that the Bill, “one of the biggest reforms in the sector”, will be passed in that session.
The bill aims to bring radical reforms in the transport sector, ranging from hefty fines for traffic rules violations to improving the licensing system and checking bogus licenses. It also aims to usher in multi-fold hike in fines for traffic violations, compensation of Rs 5 lakh for grave injuries and proposing steps to check vehicle thefts.
Asserting that the provisions of the legislation will in no way impinge upon the rights of the states, Gadkari said many of the political parties were convinced but many others sought more time to study it.
“Respecting the sentiments of the majority in the democracy”, it was decided to refer the Bill to the Select Committee, he said.
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. The parliamentary standing committee had also examined it.
“This (passage of the Bill) is not our party or government’s agenda. It is a subject of public interest and question of saving the lives of 1.5 lakh people who die in 5 lakh accidents annually. … Thirty per cent of licenses are bogus,” Gadkari said.
He said the measure aims to check corruption at regional transport offices as it is a general complaint that at many places, Rs 2,000 is charged for registration of new vehicles.
“We made it clear to members that we have not tried to impinge on the right of the state governments and we do not want to privatise state transport corporations,” he said.
The Minister said apprehensions of members were cleared but they were of the opinion that only a few days have been left in the session.
The Bill has been framed by transport ministers of states after taking the best global practises from US, UK and Singapore.
Yesterday, the Road Transport and Highways Ministry had made it clear that driving licences will be issued by states only, allaying fears that the legislation could impinge on the states’ rights. It had also said the Centre will not establish driving schools and the states can accredit such schools.
Earlier, DMK MP Tiruchi Siva, on behalf of southern states Transport Ministers, had raised concerns in Rajya Sabha that the bill had provisions that the central government can also to establish new driving schools.
It said the Centre has proposed a scheme to provide financial assistance to 2000 motor driving schools to improve driving training standards in the country, particularly in the rural areas. This scheme shall be launched shortly.