Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill set to raise insurance burden on vehicle owners

The Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2019, tabled in the Lok Sabha on 15 July by minister of road transport and highways Nitin Gadkari, seeks to simplify the third party insurance for motor vehicles.

The bill seeks to amend the Motor Vehicles Bill, 1988 to address the issues of third party insurance, regulation of taxi aggregators and road safety.
The bill proposes to double compensation to accident victims to Rs5 lakh in case of death and Rs2.5 lakh in case of grevious injury. Most importantly, it empowers the central government to prescribe minimum premium and corresponding liability of insurer for third party insurance policy.
The amended bill makes the guardian or owner of the vehicle liable in case of offence by a juvenile. The guardian or owner of the motor vehicle will also be held responsible and shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and with a fine of Rs25,000. In case the juvenile has a learner's licence, the guardian or owner will not be held responsible.
The bill proposes the development of a National Transportation Policy by the Centre to set up guidelines for transportation of goods and passengers.
The bill was opposed by TMC and Congress for taking away decision making power from the states.
"It takes away power of states to provide rural connectivity as a social service instead of profitable routes for operation of such services. This will put the people in rural areas at a disadvantage as private operators refuse to cater to their needs because of low profits," said TMC MP Sougata Roy.
Gadkari responded by saying that states may or may not implement this legislation as per their will and the Centre does not want to take away the right of the states.
The Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2019 also seeks to increase the time limit for renewal of driving licence from one month to one year before and after the date.
Trinamool MP Mahua Moitra raised objection over this amendment as it would be detrimental to road safety. "People with expired licence will be allowed to drive around with an expired licence for one whole year which could be a danger to others," she said.
Gadkari urged members of the Lok Sabha to pass the bill to save lakhs of lives lost due to road accidents every year. More than 5 lakh people get injured in road accidents every year, he said. 
He admitted that his department had failed to pass the bill in the last five years and as a result the number of road accidents has reduced only by 3-4 per cent in India.
Lok Sabha also passed demands for grants under road transport and highways for 2019-20.