Go Legal, Drive Legal

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Drive Legal

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By Harsha Garg, Student, Amity Law School, Delhi

Harsh Sinha, Student, Amity Law School, Lucknow

Satyameva Jayate is back! Though it is worth watching, I’m not promoting the show here. I want to remind you of the recent advertisement of Satyameva Jayate where a policeman is shown asking for money rather than doing the chalan. Though in this advertisement both the commuter and the policeman are equally guilty, it is a very usual thing these days. This article will aware you about the laws related to driving.

The motor vehicles Act, consolidates and amends the law relating to motor vehicles. The amendments have been made taking in account the changes in the road transport technology, pattern of passenger and freight movements, developments, of the road network in the country and particularly the improved techniques in the motor vehicles management. The aim of this act is also to protect the people from any kind of exploitation by the policemen in uniform, such that no undue advantage can be taken.

That being said, most of the people know how to drive nowadays, but do we all know what they are gambling on when they get behind the wheel? We are certainly aware about the basic knowledge about penalties concerning the use of seat belts, helmets, jumping a traffic light, over speeding etc. but what about the intricacies provided under the motor vehicles act right from the insurance of the vehicle, to the registration of the license plate, to the issue of a driving license, to a third party liability. Everyone must be aware about those also, from the basic knowledge of the required documents to the powers and duties of the traffic police to the things we ought to do if we are ever in an accident.

What are the essential documents required to drive?

  1. Certificate of registration
  2. Certificate of Insurance
  3. Emission test certificate (PUC)
  4. No objection certificate
  5. Driver’s license
  6. In case of Transport Vehicle- Certificate of fitness and all other necessary permits

Section 39 and 40 of the Act, provide how and why registration of the vehicle is to be made, the registration of the vehicle is necessary to be ensured as a legally driven vehicle. After the production of the vehicle at the time of registration, a certificate of registration is granted by the competent authority. Section 3 and 4 of the Act talk about the granting of the driving license and the conditions for the same, while everyone is aware that the legal age to drive is 18 years, for a motor vehicle under 50cc it is 16 years and for a transport vehicle is 20 years. Similarly, the Act provides for different age limits for different vehicles, every application made for issue of license must be in consonance with Section 10, after the application succeeds a learners license is issued which expires in 6 months and a permanent license must be made after one month of issue of the learners license but within 6 months expiration period. A certificate of insurance is granted under Section 147 of the Act, the necessity of an insurance certificate is to ensure that the vehicle is insured and in case of any accident taking place the insured is capable of paying any compensation that arises to the third party.

The basic laws which must be known to the citizens are as follows:

  • The cases in which your license can be ceased are entitled in Sec 21 of Motor Vehicles Act.

If a person who has been convicted of an offence under Sec 184 (DANGEROUS DRIVING) and is registered a case by police officer on an allegation that such person has, by dangerous driving under Section 184 of any class or description of motor vehicle caused the death of or grievous hurt to one or more person then the driving license held by such person shall in relation to such class or description of motor vehicle becomes suspended for a period of Six Months from the date on which the case is registered.

  • A traffic policeman is allowed to ask for document at any time. Under Sec 130 of Motor Vehicle Act, it is the duty of driver to produce license and certificate of registration to any police officer made on demand for examination.
  • As mentioned under Sec 133 of Motor Vehicle Act, the owner of the motor vehicle, the driver or the conductor of vehicle which is accused of any offence under this act shall, on the demand of any police officer authorised in this behalf by the state government, give all information regarding the name and address of, and the license held by, the driver or conduct which is in his possession or could by reasonable diligence be ascertained by him.
  • Punishment of offences related to license

Under sec 182, it is mentioned that whomsoever drives a motor vehicle in a public place or in any other place and has no driving license at that time, which is issued to him free of endorsement shall be punished with an imprisonment for a term which may extend to 3 months or with a fine which may extend to Rs.500 or both as Rs. 300 for 2 or 4 wheeler and Rs. 500 for 6 wheelers.

  • If a person does not have insurance paper at the time of driving then he should be punished with imprisonment which may extend to 3 months or with a fine which may extend to Rs.1000, or with both, as held under sec 196 of Motor Vehicle Act.
  • If any person tries to violate the law or goes against the law by breaking traffic signal, then he shall be liable to pay fine of Rs. 50 which may extend to Rs.200 in case of two/three wheelers and Rs. 100 to Rs.200 for four/six wheelers as held under section 199,177 of Motor Vehicle Act.
  • If the vehicle is not PUC certified that is creating a pollution problem so under sec190 (1) maximum penalties would be of Rs.50 which may extend to Rs.200 for two or three wheeler and about Rs.100 to Rs.200 for four and six wheelers.

Similarly, other offences in the motor vehicles act include-

  1. Not carrying valid license while driving (Section 177)- first offence (fine upto Rs. 100), Subsequent offence (fine upto Rs.300)
  2. Not carrying required documents (Section 177)- First offence (fine upto Rs.100), Subsequent offence (fine upto Rs.300)
  3. Jumping signal (Section 177)- First offence (fine upto Rs.100), Subsequent offence (fine upto Rs.300)
  4. Talking on cellphone while driving (Section 184)- Imprisonment upto 6 months and fine of Rs.1000
  5. Drunk driving (Section 185)- First offence (Imprisonment upto 6 months or fine of Rs.2000 or both), Subsequent offence if committed within 3 years of the commission of the first offence (Imprisonment upto 2 years or fine upto Rs.3000 or both)
  6. Driving without license (Section 181)- Fine upto Rs.500 or imprisonment upto 3 months or both
  7. Driving without Insurance (Section 196)- Fine upto Rs.1000 or imprisonment upto 3 months or both
  8. Driving without registration and valid permit (Section 192)- First Offence (Fine up to Rs. 5000 [not less than Rs. 2000]or Imprisonment up to 3 months or both), Subsequent Offence (Fine up to Rs. 10000 [not less than Rs. 5000]or Imprisonment up to 1 yr or both)
  9. Over speeding- First offence (fine upto Rs.300), Subsequent offence (fine upto Rs.1000)

In case of an accident causing damage to third party, the motor vehicle under Section 134 provides for the following procedures to be followed-

  1. To seek immediate medical attention.
  2. Contact nearby police station within 24 hours of the occurrence and to furnish any required information needed by the police officer.

iii. Give in writing to the insurer about the occurrence of the accident and to furnish the following-

  • Insurance policy number and validity period
  • Date, time and place of accident
  • Particulars of the person injured or killed in the accident
  • Name of the driver and the particulars of his driving license (includes the owner)

Along with the above, the traffic police has been given ample powers to cancel and revoke the driving license. While Section 16 lays down conditions under which the license can be revoked, Section 19 provides for circumstances and power to the license issuing authority to disqualify any person from holding a license. In addition to the above, Section 20 of the act empowers the court which convicts a person for an offence under the act or of an offence in the commission of which a motor vehicle is used to disqualify a person from holding any driving license to drive all classes or description of vehicles or any particular class or description of such vehicle as are specified in the said license.

The Act also under Sections 205, 206 and 207 provides for the power of police of police officers independent of any other provisions and penalties provided otherwise in the act, to impound and seize the false identification mark, or documents relating to license, permit, certificate of registration, certificate of insurance or other document produced to him by the driver or the person in charge of a motor vehicle, within the meaning of section 464 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. All the above mentioned sections try to enforce the conditions required for the public to enjoy the facilities provided as under the road transport system, by empowering the licensing authority and police to cancel or revoke or suspend the license provided to the individuals.

Although the provisions of the Motor Vehicle Act, 1988, provide for sound provisions yet it cannot be denied that it is an act enacted and validated in the pre-independence era and the numerous amendments have failed to serve their purpose. Firstly, where the judiciary has to come to rescue of the failure of the implementation of the laws, then it defies the very role of the judiciary as an adjudicator. Secondly, the power of stopping, search and seizure given to the police officers causes a reasonable restriction under Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution to the motor vehicle bearers, however, are only justified and reasonable when exercised properly in the interests of the general public. They should be reasonable from procedural as well as substantive viewpoint. It is easy for these powers to be misused and must be entrusted to a person who is expected to exercise them fairly and without bias. Therefore, recently, the new draft of the Motor Vehicles Bill, that is being said to replace the 1988 act, was released by the Parliament on September 13. This bill if enacted, proposes to implement stringent penalties for traffic offences along with claiming to reduce road fatalities by 20 percent annually. Not only does the bill increases the amount of fine that is, levying a heavy fine upto 3 lakhs but also would setup a motor accident fund to help grievously injured people and to compensate legal representatives of the victim. The Bill has been drafted in sync with the best practices of six advanced nations – US, Canada, Singapore, Japan, Germany and the UK.