Uttarakhand, Gujarat, Maharashtra cut new traffic fines, Karnataka, Goa may follow suit: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ruled Uttarakhand, Gujarat, Maharashtra have applied brakes on hefty fines for traffic violations.  The three states announced a significant reduction in fine amounts stipulated in the new Motor Vehicles Act as it was a burden on the people.

The Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill 2019 came into effect on September 1, 2019. The Bill, that made several changes on existing traffic penalty charts, angered the people after traffic policemen in various states imposed heavy penalties for traffic violations. Reports said an autorickshaw driver in Bhubaneswar was fined Rs 47,500 for violating several traffic rules; a truck owner from Rajasthan was forced to pay up Rs 1,41,000 for overloading his vehicle while a Delhi resident set ablaze his motorcycle on fire after he was asked to pay hefty traffic fine.

The Uttarakhand government has decided to relax traffic fines. Speaking on the new Motor Vehicles Act, Uttarakhand minister Madan Kaushik in Dehradun said the state government has given relaxations on penalties for traffic violations under certain sections of the Act. The Centre has imposed a fine of Rs 10,000 for driving with an expired licence but the Uttarakhand government brought it down to Rs 5,000, Kaushik added.

Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani was the first CM to reduce the fines prescribed under the amended Motor Vehicles Act on Tuesday. Rupani brought the fines down to as low as 10% of the actual amount for some offences.  The Gujarat government has decided to impose a fine of Rs 500 for riding without a helmet against Rs 1,000 proposed by the new act. The BS Yeddyurappa government in Karnataka is also considering to lessen the burden of traffic fines on its people and it may take a page from the Gujarat government’s handbook of traffic regulations, reports said.

Maharashtra also rejected hefty fine amendments in the Motor Vehicles Act and asked the Central government to reconsider its decision. The state government also sent Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari a letter over growing public outcry against the new law. Supporting the new law, Nitin Gadkari on Wednesday informed that states have authority to decide on the fine rates. Gadkari said if states want to accept the logic behind the amendments of the Motor Vehicles Act, they will implement it, is not about politics or BJP or Congress. Reports said the BJP-Shiv Sena coalition government in Maharashtra termed the new penalties as “exorbitant” and stayed its implementation.

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Terming the newly prescribed penalties as a burden on the people, BJP-ruled Goa and Karnataka indicated that they will also consider changing the law to suit them if the Centre did not reconsider its proposal.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday said the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 2019 is “very harsh” and her government will not implement it in the state. She told journalists at the State Secretariat that the Bengal government will start a “Safe Drive Save Life” campaign instead. The Bengal CM also said that her party members had raised objections against the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 2019 when it was being discussed in the Parliament as it interferes into the federal structure.

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