At least 30% of licences procured in India are fake, the Centre said on Sunday. Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari said there was a need to check “bogus” licences, and that the Centre was going to start an online system to conduct computerised tests to issue driving licences. “Everyone, be it a politician, an official or a celebrity, will have to take the test to get a licence. There will be complete transparency,” Gadkari said, adding that the government will also set up 5,000 new driving centres.

The ministry collected data of about 18 crore licences, of which an estimated 5.4 crore fell under the “bogus” category, an official said. Earlier, a government survey had found that of some six crore driving licences, nearly 74 lakh were fake, PTI reported.

Gadkari also highlighted the Road Transport and Safety Bill as the key to make Indian roads safer, saying that the proposed law will improve the entire system, including the process followed to issue driving licences. He added that the Bill had been delayed so far because of opposition from “vested interests” in Regional Transport Offices.

Moreover, a group of ministers has submitted a preliminary report, recommending hefty penalties for traffic violations. The report suggests that a jail term of up to a year and a fine of Rs 10,000 be imposed on violators found driving with bogus licences. This sentence is a sharp rise from the current fine of Rs 500 and maximum jail term of three months.

In case of juvenile drivers, the guardian or owner of the vehicle will face stricter penalties of up to three years in jail and a fine of up to Rs 20,000. They may also have the registration certificate of their vehicle cancelled, the report suggested.

The group of ministers – headed by Rajasthan Transport Minister Yunoos Khan and including transport ministers from other states – was given the task of framing the Bill to make significant changes to the Central Motor Vehicles Act, 1988. Their report contains several other recommendations to impose stricter punishments on violators.