Motor Vehicles Act, 1988; Objects & Reasons

The motor vehicles Act, 1939 (4 of 1939), consolidates and amends the law relating to motor vehicles. This has been amended several times to keep it up to date. The need was, however, felt that this Act should, now inter alia, take into account also 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.

Various Committees, like, National Transport Policy Committee, National Police Commission, Road Safety Committee, Low Powered Two – Wheelers Committee, as also the Law Commission have gone into different aspects of road transport. They have recommended updating, simplification and rationalization of this law.

# Motor Vehicles Act, 1939

Several Members of Parliament have also urged for comprehensive review of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1939, to make it relevant to the modern – day requirements.

A Working Group was, therefore, constituted in January, 1984 to review all the provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1939 and to submit draft proposals for a comprehensive legislation to replace the existing Act.

This Working Group took into account the suggestions and recommendations earlier made by various bodies and institutions like Central Institute of Road Transport (CIRT), Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI), and other transport organisations including, the manufacturers and the general public, Besides, obtaining comments of State Governments on the recommendations of the Working Group, these were discussed in a specially convened meeting of Transport Ministers of all States and Union territories.

Some of the more important modifications so suggested related for taking care of –

  • (a) the fast increasing number of both commercial vehicles and personal vehicles in the country;
  • (b) the need for encouraging adoption of higher technology in automotive sector;
  • (c) the greater flow of passenger and freight with the least impediments so that islands of isolation are not created leading to regional or local imbalances;
  • (d) concern for road safety standards, and pollution-control measures, standards for transportation of hazardous and explosive materials;
  • (e) simplification of procedure and policy liberalization’s for private sector operations in the road transport field ; and
  • (f) need for effective ways of tracking down traffic offenders.

The Supreme Court in M. K. Kunhimohammed v. P. A. Ahmedkutty (1987) 4 SCC 284, has made certain suggestions to raise the limit of compensation payable as a result of motor accidents in respect of death and permanent disablement in the event of there being no proof of fault on the part of the person involved in the accident and also in hit and run motor accidents and to remove certain disparities in the liability of the insurer to pay compensation depending upon the class or type of vehicles involved in the accident. The above suggestions made by the Supreme Court have been incorporated in the Act.

The proposed legislation has been prepared in the light of the above background. Some of the more important provisions of the Act provide for the following matters, namely :-

  • (a) rationalization of certain definitions with additions of certain new definitions of new types of vehicles;
  • (b) stricter procedures relating to grant of driving licences and the period of validity thereof;
  • (c) laying down of standards for the components and parts of motor vehicles;
  • (d) standards for anti-pollution control devices;
  • (e) provision for issuing fitness certificates of vehicles also by the authorised testing stations;
  • (f) enabling provision for updating the system of registration marks;
  • (g) liberalised schemes for grant of stage carriage permits on nonnationalised routes, all-India Tourist permits and also national permits for goods carriages;
  • (h) administration of the Solatium Scheme by the General Insurance Corporation;
  • (i) provision for enhanced compensation in cases of “no fault liability” and in hit and run motor accidents;
  • (j) provision for payment of compensation by the insurer to the extent of actual liability to the victims of motor accidents irrespective of the class of vehicles;
  • (k) maintenance of State registers for driving licences and vehicle registration;
  • (l) constitution of Road Safety Councils.

The Act also seeks to provide for more deterrent punishment in the cases of certain offences. The Notes on clauses explain the provisions of the Act.

# Amendment Act 54 of 1994 – Statement of Objects and Reasons

The Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 (59 of 1988) consolidated and rationalised various laws regulating road transport. The Act came into force with effect from 1st July, 1989 replacing the Motor Vehicles Act, 1939.

After the coming into force of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, Government received a number of representations and suggestions from the state govt. transport operators and members of public regarding the inconvenience faced by them because of the operation of some of the provisions of the 1988 Act. A Review Committee was, therefore, constituted by the Government in March, 1990 to examine and review the 1988 Act.

The recommendations of the Review Committee were forwarded to the State Governments for comments and they generally agree with these recommendations. The Government also considered a large number of representations received, after finalisation of the Report of the Review Committee, from the transport operators and public for making amendments in the Act.

The draft of the proposals based on the recommendation of the Review Committee and representations from the public were placed before the Transport Development Council for seeking their views in the matter. The important suggestions made by the Transport Development Council relate to, or are on account of, –

  • (a) The introduction of newer type of vehicles and fast increasing number of both commercial and personal vehicles in the country.
  • (b) Providing adequate compensation to victims of road accidents without going into longdrawn procedure;
  • (c) Protecting consumers’ interest in Transport Sector;
  • (d) Concern for road safety standards, transport of hazardous chemicals and pollution control;
  • (e) Delegation of greater powers to State Transport Authorities and rationalising the role of public authorities in certain matters;
  • (f) The simplification of procedures and policy liberalisation in the field of Road Transport;
  • (g) Enchancing penalties for traffic offenders.

4. Therefore, the proposed legislation has been prepared in the light of the above background. The Act inter alia provides for –

  • (a) modification and amplification of certain definitions of new type of vehicles ;
  • (b) simplification of procedure for grant of driving licences;
  • (c) putting restrictions on the alteration of vehicles;
  • (d) certain exemptions for vehicles running on non-polluting fuels;
  • (e) ceilings on individuals or company holdings removed to curb “benami” holdings;
  • (f) states authorised to appoint one or more State Transport Appellate Tribunals;
  • (g) punitive checks on the use of such components that do not conform to the prescribed standards by manufactures, and also stocking / sale by the traders;
  • (h) increase in the amount of compensation of the victims of hit and run cases;
  • (i) removal of time limit for filling of application by road accident victims for compensation;
  • (j) punishment in case of certain offences is made stringent;
  • (k) a new pre-determined formula for payment of compensation to road accident victims on the basis of age / income, which is more liberal and rational.

The Law Commission in its 119th Report had recommended that every application for a claim be made to the Claims Tribunal having jurisdiction over the area in which the accident occurred or to the Claims Tribunal within the local limits of whose jurisdiction the claimant resides or carries on business or within the local limits of whose jurisdiction the defendant resides, at the option of the claimant. The Act also makes necessary provision to give effect to the said recommendation.

# Amendment Act 27 of 2000 – Statement of Objects and Reasons

The Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 consolidated and rationalised various laws regulating road transport. The said Act was amended in 1994.

Further amendments in the aforesaid Act have become necessary so as to reduce the vehicular pollution and to ensure the safety of the road users. It is, therefore, proposed to prohibit alteration of vehicles in any manner including change of tyres of higher capacity. However, the alteration of vehicles with a view to facilitating the use of eco-friendly fuel including Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) is being permitted. Further, it is proposed to confer powers on the Central Government to allow the alteration of vehicles for certain specified purposes.

At present, the educational institutions are not required to obtain permits for the operation of buses owned by them. It is proposed to bring the buses run by these institutions within the purview of the aforesaid Act by requiring them to obtain permits.

It is also proposed to allow renewal of permits, driving licences and registration certificates granted under the Motor Vehicles Act, 1939 to be renewed under the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, by inserting new section 217 – A.

The proposed amendments are essential in the overall interest of securing road safety and maintaining a clean environment.

# Amendment Act 39 of 2001 – Statement of Objects and Reasons

The Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 (59 of 1988) is a Central legislation through which the road transport is regulated in the country. By the Motor Vehicles (Amendment ) Act, 1994, inter alia, amendments were made for make special provisions under sections 66 & 67 so as to provide that vehicles operating on eco–friendly fuels shall be exempted from the requirements of permits and also the owners of such vehicles shall have the discretion to fix fares and freights for carriage of passengers and goods. The intention in bringing the said amendments was to encourage the operation of vehicles with such eco-friendly fuels.

However, it has been observed that during the last several years, not only the supply of eco-friendly fuels like CNG has increased tremendously, a large number of vehicles have come on the road which in terms of sections 66 and 67, as amended by the Motor Vehicles ( Amendment) Act, 1994, are operating without any requirement of permits and are, therefore, not subject to any control of the State Governments. The number of such vehicles is likely to further increase substantially.

The aforesaid situation is likely to lead to indiscipline on the road and consequent increase in the road accidents. It is, therefore, considered essential to remove exemption provided under sections 66 and 67 of the said Act to CNG operated vehicles so that vehicles which operate on eco-friendly fuels are also covered by the terms and conditions applicable to all other vehicles.

The proposed amendments are essential in the overall interest of securing road safety and maintaining a clean environment.

The Act seeks to achieve the above object.