[Part-2] Recent major changes in the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988

 



In continuation of Part 1 which can be found here.

Amendments

Chapter X of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 has been omitted.

Definintion of “Grevious hurt”

Section 145 now provides that the term “Grevious hurt” shall have the same meaning as assigned to it in Section 320 of IPC.

Definition of “Third Party”

The definition of “Third Party” now includes, the driver and any other co-worker on a transport vehicle.

Changes in Section 147

Earlier a policy of insurance was not be required-

(i)  to cover liability in respect of the death, arising our of the and in the course of his employment, of the employee of a person insured by the policy or in respect of bodily injury sustained by such an employee arising out of and in the course of his employment other than a liability arising under the Workmen’s Compensation Act, 1923 (8 of 1923), in respect of the death, or bodily injury to, any such employee–

(a)  engaged in driving the vehicle, or

(b)  if it is public service vehicle engaged as a conductor of the vehicle or in examining tickets on the vehicle, or

(c)  if it is a good carriage, being in the vehicle, or

(ii)  to cover any contractual liability. 

However this portion has been removed now from the new Section 147.

Earlier a policy of insurance referred to in sub-section (1) of Section 147 had to cover any liability incurred in respect of any accident, upto the following limits, namely-

(a)  save as provided in clause  (b), the amount of liability incurred ;

(b)  in respect of damage to any property of a third party, limit of rupees six thousand :

However, now after the amendment, as per sub-section (2) of Section 147, notwithstanding anything contained under any other law for the time being in force, for the purposes of third party insurance related to either death of a person or grievous hurt to a person, the Central Government shall prescribe a base premium and the liability of an insurer in relation to such premium for an insurance policy under sub-section (1) in consultation with the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority.

PROCEDURE FOR SETTLEMENT BY INSURANCE COMPANY

As per the new Section 149, the insurance company shall, upon receiving information of the accident, either from claimant or through accident information report or otherwise, designate an officer to settle the claims relating to such accident.

An officer designated by the insurance company for processing the settlement of claim of compensation may make an offer to the claimant for settlement before the Claims Tribunal giving such details, within thirty days and after following such procedure as may be prescribed by the Central Government.

If, the claimant to whom the offer is made accepts such offer, the Claims Tribunal shall make a record of such settlement, and such claim shall be deemed to be settled by consent; and the payment shall be made by the insurance company within a maximum period of thirty days from the date of receipt of such record of settlement.

However, if, the claimant to whom the offer is made rejects such offer, a date of hearing shall be fixed by the Claims Tribunal to adjudicate such claim on merits.

Advantage to the Insurance Companies

Non-receipt of premium as required under section 64VB of the Insurance Act, 1938 has been added as a ground to defend the proceedings instituted against insurance companies.

Disadvantage to the Insurance Companies

The proviso to sub-clause (4) Section 149 of the unamended act provided that any sum paid by the insurer in or towards the discharge of any liability of any person which is covered by the policy by virtue of only this sub-section shall be recoverable by the insurer from that person. However, this proviso has been removed after the amendment.

Sub-clause (5) of Section 149 of the unamended act provided that If the amount which a insurer became liable under this section to pay in respect of a liability incurred by a person insured by a policy exceeded the amount for which the insurer would apart from the provision of this section be liable under the policy in respect of that liability, the insurer shall be entitled to recover the excess from that person. However, this sub-clause has been removed after the amendment.

Information to be given regarding accident

As per Section 159 of the amended Act, the police officer shall, during the investigation, prepare an accident information report to facilitate the settlement of claim in such form and manner, within three months and containing such particulars and submit the same to the Claims Tribunal and such other agency as may be prescribed.

Scheme for Golden Hour

Notwithstanding anything contained in the General Insurance Companies (Nationalisation) Act, 1972 or any other law for the time being in force or any instrument having the force of law, the insurance companies for the time being carrying on general insurance business in India shall provide in accordance with the provisions of this Act and the schemes made under this Act for treatment of road accident victims, including during the golden hour. The Central Government shall make a scheme for the cashless treatment of victims of the accident during the golden hour and such scheme may contain provisions for creation of a fund for such treatment.

Payment of compensation in case of death or grievous hurt, etc.

As per Section 164 of the amended act, notwithstanding anything contained in this Act or in any other law for the time being in force or instrument having the force of law, the owner of the motor vehicle or the authorised insurer shall be liable to pay in the case of death or grievous hurt due to any accident arising out of the use of motor vehicle, a compensation, of a sum of five lakh rupees in case of death or of two and a half lakh rupees in case of grievous hurt to the legal heirs or the victim, as the case may be. In any claim for compensation under the Section 164(1) of the amended act, the claimant shall not be required to plead or establish that the death or grievous hurt in respect of which the claim has been made was due to any wrongful act or neglect or default of the owner of the vehicle or of the vehicle concerned or of any other person. However, where, in respect of death or grievous hurt due to an accident arising out of the use of motor vehicle, compensation has been paid under any other law for the time being in force, such amount of compensation shall be reduced from the amount of compensation payable under Section 164 of the amended act. However, after the amendment to Section 166, where a person accepts compensation under section 164 in accordance with the procedure provided under section 149, his claims petition before the Claims Tribunal shall lapse.

Scheme for interim relief for claimants

The Central Government, may make schemes for the provision of interim relief to claimants praying for compensation, shall also provide for procedure to recover funds disbursed under such scheme from the owner of the motor vehicle, where the claim arises out of the use of such motor vehicle or other sources as may be prescribed by the Central Government.

Motor Vehicle Accident Fund

The Central Government shall constitute a Fund to be called the Motor Vehicle Accident Fund and

(a) payment of a nature notified and approved by the Central Government;

(b) any grant or loan made to the Fund by the Central Government;

(c) the balance of the Fund created under scheme framed under section 163, as it stood immediately before the commencement of the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 2019; and

(d) any other source of income as may be prescribed by the Central Government.

shall be credited to this fund. The Fund shall be constituted for the purpose of providing compulsory insurance cover to all road users in the territory of India.

The Fund shall be utilised for:

(a) treatment of the persons injured in road accidents in accordance with the scheme framed by the Central Government under section 162;

(b) compensation to representatives of a person who died in hit and run motor accident in accordance with schemes framed under section 161;

(c) compensation to a person grievously hurt in a hit and run motor accident in accordance with schemes framed under section 161; and

(d) compensation to such persons as may be prescribed by the Central Government.

However, where amount has been paid out of this Fund to any person, the same amount shall be deductible from the claim received by such person from the insurance company.

Limitation period for filing claim under Section 166

After the amendment, no application for compensation shall be entertained unless it is made within six months of the occurrence of the accident.

Powers of Claims Tribunal

After the amendment, for the purpose of enforcement of its award, the Claims Tribunal shall also have all the powers of a Civil Court in the execution of a decree under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, as if the award were a decree for the payment of money passed by such court in a civil suit.

Increased deposit amount for filing appeal

As per Section 173 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, no appeal by the person who is required to pay any amount in terms of such award shall be entertained by the High Court unless he has deposited with it twenty-five thousand rupees or fifty percent, of the amount, so awarded, whichever is less, in the manner directed by the High Court. However, after the amendment, the deposit amount has been altered to “one lakh” rupees or fifty percent, of the amount, so awarded, whichever is less, in the manner directed by the High Court.

Driving regulations

Section 118 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, provides that the Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, make regulations for the driving of motor vehicles.  After the amendment, a new section 177A has been inserted, as per which, whoever contravenes the regulations made under section 118, shall be punishable with fine which shall not be less than five hundred rupees, but may extend to one thousand rupees.



Increased punishments

  • For disobedience of orders, obstruction and refusal of information, the maximum fine which can be imposed has been increased from “five hundred rupees” to “two thousand rupees”.
  • For allowing unauthorised persons to drive vehicles, the maximum fine which can be imposed has been increased from “one thousand rupees” to “five thousand rupees”
  • For driving vehicles in contravention of section 3 or section 4, the fine has been changed from “upto five thousand rupees” to “five thousand rupees”
  • For driving without license or applying / obtaining a driving license while not being entitled to applying / obtaining it, the fine has been changed from “upto five thousand rupees” to “ten thousand rupees”
  • For driving a light motor vehicle at excessive speeds, the fine has been changed from “upto four hundred rupees” to “minimum one thousand and maximum two thousand rupees” for first time offence and the punishment for second / subsequent offence, the fine has been changed from “upto one thousand rupees” to “impounding of driving license”
  • For driving dangerously, or causing a sense of alarm or distress to the occupants of the vehicle, other road users, and persons near roads, after the amendment, the punishment is imprisonment of a term upto to one year but which shall not be less than six months or with fine which shall not be less than one thousand rupees but may extend to five thousand rupees, or with both” and for any second or subsequent offence if committed within three years of the commission of a previous similar offence with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years or with fine which may extend to ten thousand rupees, or with both. Driving dangerously has been defined as jumping a red light; violating a stop sign; using handheld communications devices while driving; passing or overtaking other vehicles in a manner contrary to law; driving against the authorised flow of traffic; or driving in any manner that falls far below what would be expected of a competent and careful driver and where it would be obvious to a competent and careful driver that driving in that manner would be dangerous.
  • For drunk driving or driving under influence of a narcotic drug and psychotropic substance, the maximum fine which can be imposed has been increased from upto “two thousand rupees” to upto “ten thousand rupees”. Also for every subsequent offence (even after three years), the fine has been increased from upto “three thousand rupees” to “fifteen thousand rupees”.
  • For driving when mentally or physically unfit to drive, the fine has been changed from upto “two hundred rupees” to upto “one thousand rupees” for the first offence and for subsequent offences from upto “five hundred rupees” to upto “two thousand rupees”
  • For driving vehicle exceeding permissible weight, after the amendment, the punishment has been changed to twenty thousand rupees and an additional amount of two thousand rupees per tonne of excess load. It is further provided that such motor vehicle shall not be allowed to move before such excess load is removed or is caused or allowed to be removed by the person in control of such motor vehicle. Furthermore, it has been provided that whoever drives a motor vehicle or causes or allows a motor vehicle to be driven when such motor vehicle is loaded in such a manner that the load or any part thereof or anything extends laterally beyond the side of the body or to the front or to the rear or in height beyond the permissible limit shall be punishable with a fine of twenty thousand rupees, together with the liability to pay charges for off-loading of such load. Also, such motor vehicle shall not be allowed to move before such load is arranged in a manner such that there is no extension of the load laterally beyond the side of the body or to the front or to the rear or in height beyond the permissible limit.
  • Whoever drives a transport vehicle or causes or allows a transport vehicle to be driven while carrying more passengers than is authorised in the registration certificate of such transport vehicle or the permit conditions applicable to such transport vehicle shall be punishable with a fine of two hundred rupees per excess passenger. Also such transport vehicle shall not be allowed to move before the excess passengers are off-loaded and an alternative transport is arranged for such passengers.
  • Whoever drives a motor vehicle without wearing a safety belt or carries passengers not wearing seat belts shall be punishable with a fine of one thousand rupees. Whoever drives a motor vehicle or causes or allows a motor vehicle to be driven with a child who, not having attained the age of fourteen years, is not secured by a safety belt or a child restraint system shall be punishable with a fine of one thousand rupees.
  • Whoever while driving a motor vehicle fails to draw to the side of the road, on the approach of a fire service vehicle or of an ambulance or other emergency vehicle as may be specified by the State Government, shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months, or with a fine of ten thousand rupees or with both.
  • Whoever, while driving a motor vehicle, sounds the horn needlessly or continuously or more than necessary to ensure safety, or sounds the horn in an area with a traffic sign prohibiting the use of a horn, or drives a motor vehicle which makes use of a cut-out by which exhaust gases are released other than through the silencer, shall be punishable with a fine of one thousand rupees and for a second or subsequent offence with a fine of two thousand rupees.
  • For driving uninsured vehicle, after the amendment, the first offence shall be punishable with imprisonment which may extend to three months, or with fine of two thousand rupeesor with both. For every subsequent offence, the punishment shall be imprisonment for a term which may extend to three months, or fine of four thousand rupees, or with both.
  • Whoever takes and drives away any motor vehicle without having either the consent of the owner thereof or other lawful authority shall be punishable with imprisonment which may extend to three months, or with fine of five thousand rupees, or with both.
  • Whoever, unlawfully by force or threat of force or by any other form of intimidation, seizes or exercises control of a motor vehicle, shall be punishable with imprisonment which may extend to three months, or with fine of five thousand rupees, or with both.
  • Whoever otherwise than with lawful authority or reasonable excuse enters or moves any stationary motor vehicle or tampers with the brake or any part of the mechanism of a motor vehicle shall be punishable with fine of one thousand rupees.
  • Any designated authority, contractor, consultant or concessionaire responsible for the design or construction or maintenance of the safety standards of the road shall follow such design, construction and maintenance standards, as may be prescribed by the Central Government from time to time. Where failure on the part of the designated authority, contractor, consultant or concessionaire responsible to comply with standards for road design, construction and maintenance, results in death or disability, such authority or contractor or concessionaire shall be punishable with a fine which may extend to one lakh rupees and the same shall be paid to the Fund constituted under section 164B.
  • 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. However, such guardian or owner shall not be liable to any punishment provided in this Act, if he proves that the offence was committed without his knowledge or that he exercised all due diligence to prevent the commission of such offence. But, the he Court shall presume that the use of the motor vehicle by the juvenile was with the consent of the guardian of such juvenile or the owner of the motor vehicle, as the case may be. In addition to the penalty, such guardian or owner shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and with a fine of twenty-five thousand rupees, however, these punishments shall not apply to such guardian or owner if the juvenile committing the offence had been granted a learner’s licence or a driving licence and was operating a motor vehicle which such juvenile was licensed to operate. Where an offence under this Act has been committed by a juvenile, the registration of the motor vehicle used in the commission of the offence shall be cancelled for a period of twelve months. Furthermore, if a juvenile commits an offence under this Act, such juvenile shall not be eligible to be granted a driving licence or a learner’s licence until such juvenile has attained the age of twenty-five years. Also such juvenile shall 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.
  • Penalty for causing obstruction to free flow of traffic has been increased from “fifty rupees per hour” to “five hundred rupees”. Removal charges shall also include any costs involved in the removal of the motor vehicle from one location to another and also includes any costs related to storage of such motor vehicle.

Compounding of offences

Any offence punishable under section 177, section 178, section 179, section 180, section 181, section 182, sub-section (1) or sub-section (3) or sub-section (4) of section 182A, section 182B, sub-section (1) or sub-section (2) of section 183, section 184 only to the extent of use of handheld communication devices, section 186, section 189, sub-section (2) of section 190, section 192, section 192A, section 194, section 194A, section 194B, section 194C, section 194D, section 194E, section 194F, section 196, section 198, may either before or after the institution of the prosecution, be compounded by such officers or authorities and for such amount as the State Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, specify in this behalf. However, the State Government may, in addition to such amount, require the offender to undertake a period of community service. Notwithstanding compounding, such offence shall be deemed to be a previous commission of the same offence for the purpose of determining whether a subsequent offence has been committed. Compounding of an offence will not discharge the offender from proceedings under sub-section (4) of section 206 or the obligation to complete a driver refresher training course, or the obligation to complete community service, if applicable.

Power of seizure of license in certain cases.

A police officer or other person authorised in this behalf by the State Government shall, if he has reason to believe that the driver of a motor vehicle has committed an offence under any of sections 183, 184, 185, 189, 190, 194C, 194D, or 194E, seize the driving licence held by such driver and forward it to the licensing authority for disqualification or revocation proceedings under section 19. However, the person seizing the licence shall give to the person surrendering the licence a temporary acknowledgement therefor, but such acknowledgement shall not authorise the holder to drive until the licence has been returned to him.

Liability of traffic authorities  

Any authority that is empowered to enforce the provisions of this Act shall, if such authority commits an offence under this Act, shall be liable for twice the penalty corresponding to that offence under this Act.

Copy of notification: Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 2019

-Adv. Tushar Kaushik 

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