The Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill 2019 ushers in a variety of new regulations and changes so as to improve the state of road safety in India.
The poor state of road safety in India can be admittedly ascribed to far too many factors. And while we have had laws aimed at dealing with crucial challenges that continue to take a toll on the safety on the country’s roads, we have struggled to ensure compliance. This, in turn, can be chalked to things like the fact that our laws haven’t been what you’d call stringent and that the implementation is poor as well. Thankfully, the government’s stance has evolved, for the better, over the years and the proof is found in the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill 2019, which was recently passed by the Lok Sabha.
The aforementioned bill ushers in a variety of new regulations as well as changes to old ones, which, together, seek to improve road safety in India. It also intends to deal with the highly problematic issue of underage driving in India by putting the blame squarely on juvenile drivers’ parents and/or vehicles’ owners. To this end, the bill seeks to add two new sections in the Motor Vehicles Act, namely, sections 199A and 199B. We’ll save section 199B for later since it deals with the fines.
So, section 199A states “Where an offence under this Act has been committed by a juvenile, the guardian of such juvenile or the owner of the motor vehicle shall be deemed to be guilty of the contravention and shall be liable to be proceeded against and punished accordingly.” This is applicable unless the guardian or owner can definitively verify that “the offence was committed without his knowledge or that he exercised all due diligence to prevent the commission of such offence.”
In the context of this section, the Court will assume that the juvenile used the motor vehicle with the consent of their guardian or the vehicle’s owner. Based on that assumption, guardians/owners will be imprisoned for up to three years and levied with a fine of ₹25,000. However, this won’t apply if the juvenile driver holds a valid learner’s license and was operating a vehicle covered by their license.
Moving on; for any offences under the Motor Vehicle Act, 1988 committed by a juvenile, the vehicle’s registration will be cancelled
for 12 months. Furthermore, the juvenile will also not be granted either a learner’s license or a driving license till they are 25 years-old.
The final provision in this section states that when a juvenile commits such an offence under the Act, they will be “punishable with such fines as provided in the Act while any custodial sentence may be modified as per the provisions of the Juvenile Justice Act, 2000.”
The government may be a tad late in dealing with the issue of underage driving, but it is doing its bit. Now, the ball is in parents’ court, who must understand the inherently perilous nature of juvenile driving. They must not only do everything in their power to prevent it, but also strive to make their children/wards understand the complexity of this topic and precisely why they mustn’t engage in it. Parents must also tell their children about the dangers and the repercussions of juvenile driving and perhaps then we’ll be able to properly deal with this challenge.
As per the Bill, Guardian/owner shall be deemed to be guilty of offences by juveniles. They will be looking at a fine of Rs 25,000 and three years of imprisonment. Additionally, the registration of the motor vehicle will be canceled, and the juvenile will be tried under JJ act.