Gujarat trims fines for traffic rule violations, some states delay implementation

Following Maharashtra government’s decision to ease the burden of the new Motor Vehicle Act on vehicle owners, the Gujarat government on Tuesday reduced fines for traffic rule violations stipulated under the new Motor Vehicles Act which came into force recently while states like Telangana, Rajasthan, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal and Delhi have deferred the implementation of the new rules.

The Bill, passed by Parliament in July and came into effect on 1 September, prescribes steep fines on errant drivers and violation of traffic rules. Implementation of the new penalties have deterred drivers and vehicle owners with cases of owners abandoning two wheelers over fines going up to tens of thousands for a single act of violation.
While the hefty fines could be an incentive for cash-starved states, not all states are convinced of the need to push fines higher and have pushed it back saying people needed time to get acquainted with the enhanced penalties.
Making the announcement in Gandhinagar, Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani on Tuesday said the fines laid down in the new Act were the maximum suggested and his government had reduced them after detailed deliberations.
While the new Act stipulated a fine of Rs1,000 for riding without a helmet, the Gujarat government on Tuesday finalised the amount at Rs500. Similar is the case with driving a four-wheeler without wearing a seat-belt.
The penalty for driving without a licence has been brought down from Rs5,000, as suggested by the new Act, to Rs2,000 for two-wheelers and Rs3,000 for four-wheelers.
Rupani, however, said the government’s decision to lower fines should not be seen as leniency to traffic violators, as the reduced penalties are also about ten times the rate charged before the new Act came into force.
A government order with the revised fine amounts will be published once it is okayed by the CM.
Taking a leaf out of Maharashtra and Gujarat, Karnataka government also on Tuesday said it would also reduce the fines prescribed under the new Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 2019.
Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa, during a review meeting, is reported to have asked transport minister Laxman Savadi to look at the steps taken by the Maharashtra and Gujarat governments to give relief to citizens affected by the new fines. In some cases, the fines have increased 10 times, proving too exorbitant for violators.
Yediyurappa has asked the transport department to get copies of government orders issued in this regard from Gujarat and Maharashtra and then come up with updated fines.
More states are expected to follow up with reduced penalties on traffic rule violators and announce revised rates soon. But, until then offenders will be fined according to existing rates as introduced earlier this month. 
While the Motor Vehicles Act was passed by the union government, ‘Mechanically Propelled Vehicles’ continues to be a subject under the concurrent list of the Constitution. This means that both the union and the state governments can make or amend laws on the subject. 
Since the new Act came into force, it was reported that a Bengaluru man had to pay a fine of Rs17,000. Akash, is a resident of Varthur who works with a private company, had to pay Rs17,000 as fine, including Rs10,000 for drinking and driving, Rs5,000 for driving without a licence and Rs2,000 as both the rider and the pillion rider did not have helmets.
Statistics released by Bengaluru Traffic Police department show that 6,813 people were booked for traffic violations in Bengaluru between 4 and 9 September (until 10 am). Traffic police officials collected over Rs72 lakh in fines in the same period.
Union transport minister Nitin Gadkari, however, defended the heavy penalties on traffic rule violators, saying that the government did not revise traffic fines to generate revenue but to save lives. In a year, five lakh accidents occur in the country and 1.5 lakh people die. This must end, Gadkari said. 
“This isn't a revenue income scheme, are you not worried about the deaths of 1,50,000 people? If the state governments want to reduce this, is it not true that people neither follow law nor have fear of it,” he said while speaking to the media.
The traffic police have been charging hefty fines for flouting traffic rules since the amended Motor Vehicle Act came into effect on September 1.