Kerala Transport Minister AK Saseendran on Monday wrote to Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari, and urged him to give flexibility to states to fix the penalties for violations of traffic rules prescribed under the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 2019 that has come into effect from September 1, PTI reported.

“The fine fixed in the Act as per the Union government’s proposal are very high and disproportionate to the gravity of offences, leading to large-scale public protest,” he said in the letter. State governments could earlier fix the compounding fee up to a certain amount, but this power has been withdrawn and the Centre itself has fixed the fine amount at a higher level, PTI reported.

“Hence as in the earlier provisions of the MV Act, the flexibility for fixing the compounding fee proportionate to the gravity of offences and affordable to the common public by the state government should be restored,” the transport minister wrote in his letter.

Saseendran asked Gadkari to take necessary steps to issue an ordinance amending the MV Act, and urged him to issue clarifications to the state governments on the same. Although Gadkari had earlier said that state governments could choose the quantum of fines, there has been still no clarity on the matter. “Kerala also wanted reduction of the fine and imprisonment in respect of other offences, which do not come under Section 200 of the MV Act,” Saseendran added.

The minister pointed out in his letter that so far only four states have issued the notifications for the amended rules, and some have openly declared that they would not implement the amended Motor Vehicles Act.

Traffic fines in other states

States like Uttarakhand and Gujarat have already announced a reduction in the hefty penalty amounts for traffic violations while Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa has instructed transport authorities in the state to reduce fines for traffic violations. The government in Goa said it would first repair the roads in the state as a “moral responsibility” before charging heavy fines under the new law. The Jharkhand government announced new penalties will be implemented in the state only after December.

States like Rajasthan, West Bengal, Odisha and Maharashtra have also raised concerns about the exorbitant penalties. While West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has refused to implement the heavy fines, Maharashtra Transport Minister Diwakar Raote wrote to Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari about the exorbitant increase.

Gadkari had last week asked states not to weaken the new law and claimed that it was “done to save lives”. Road safety experts have praised the Centre for bringing in the changes but urged it to implement hefty fines gradually.

The Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2019, was passed by the Rajya Sabha on July 31 and came into force on August 9. Sixty-three clauses, including the penalty provisions, were implemented from September 1. The legislation also aims to remove corruption, improve road safety and use technology to regulate traffic.

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