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Fines for safety, not revenue; states can make cuts: Gadkari CLAMOUR GROWS Delhi awaits feedback, Bengal to lower amounts

September 12, 2019 05:02 AM


Fines for safety, not revenue; states can make cuts: Gadkari
CLAMOUR GROWS Delhi awaits feedback, Bengal to lower amounts

HT Correspondents

New Delhi/Kolkata : Union minister for road transport and highways Nitin Gadkari on Wednesday defended the recent increase in traffic fines, even as West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee joined Gujarat in announcing that her government will not implement the revised penalties to save people from the additional burden.

Chief minister of Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled Karnataka, BS Yediyurappa, also indicated in Bengaluru that his government may revise the penalties after getting the Gujarat government order. In Maharashtra, which is ruled by a coalition of the BJP and Shiv Sena, state transport minister Diwakar Raote said the revised fines were not being implemented immediately as he had requested the Centre to reconsider them.

Gadkari’s remarks came a day after Gujarat said it was reducing fines on 17 traffic offences, becoming the first state to dilute the new penalties that have triggered calls by several states for a rollback of the amendment to the Motor Vehicles Act.

On Wednesday, the Delhi government said it wanted to provide respite to people from steeply hiked penalties and will take a “conscious” decision on it. Transport minister Kailash Gahlot said the government was looking at how other states were moving on it.

Asked about the moves by the states on the increased road fines, Gadkari said: “We haven’t done this [amendment] to augment revenue. We have done this to save lives. If state governments want to reduce it [fines], they are welcome to do so.” He said that the number of deaths caused by road accidents was the highest in India.

Parliament passed amendments to the Motor Vehicles Act in its previous session, raising penalties in some traffic offences by as much as tenfold. The new penalties came into effect on September 1 but several governments, including Delhi, are yet to notify the new rates.

“First of all, the MV Act comes under the Concurrent List. Both state and central governments have a right to make laws on it. As for the fines, there is a gap, like from ~10 to ~100. So, the state government can take a decision in this regard. It is not the government’s intention to earn revenues through fines,” the Union minister said, adding that the Centre had “received a very positive response” on the revision of fines.

In an interview to television news channel NDTV, however, the minister asked whether life wasn’t more important than money for the states “refusing to enforce the fines”.

The transport ministry is considering seeking legal opinion on the states deciding to reduce the fines, a senior government official said on condition of anonymity.

Delhi transport minister Gahlot said on Wednesday that out of 61 offences under the amended act, there are 27 on which state governments have no say. However, in the case of remaining 34 offences, the state governments concerned can exercise their discretion, he added

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