CPM, Congress protest hefty fines under amended Motor Vehicles Act in Kerala, say they will increase burden on common people

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A week after the Centre’s new Motor Vehicles Act was implemented in Kerala, ruling CPI(M) and opposition Congress on Sunday came out against the hefty fines imposed for violations under the amended act, saying it would put additional burden on the common man. File image of senior CPI(M) leader Kodiyeri Balakrishnan.

CPI(M) state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan said the stiff penalties were “unscientific” and would result in corruption.

Opposition leader in the state Assembly, Ramesh Chennithala alleged that the BJP-led NDA government had “unilaterally” imposed the huge fines without consulting the state governments.

Major political parties have flayed the act, which came into force on 1 September, in the wake of strong protests by people and trade unions against the increased penalties.

Balakrishnan told reporters here that strict enforcement of existing rules and not the imposition of fines was what was needed.

“The number of increasing road accidents should be reduced. Effective interventions should be made for that. But the imposition of hefty fines will only lead to corruption. Necessary changes should be made in the MV Act considering all these factors,” he said.

Pointing out that state governments had limitations in intervening in the Central acts, the Left leader said the CPI(M) government in the state should examine what it can do legally in this regard.

Chennithala criticised the LDF government for allegedly implementing the amended MV Act in the state “without any mercy”.

Instead of implementing the existing motor vehicles rules effectively, the government was “penalising” people imposing hefty fines, which cannot be accepted, he said in a statement. He also urged the Pinarayi Vijayan government not to charge steep fines in the state as prescribed in the amended act.

“States like Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and West Bengal have already announced they will not implement the amended MV Act” and so it was not right for the state Motor Vehicle Department to go ahead in implementing the act, he said Parliament in July passed the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2019, which imposed stricter penalties in an attempt to improve road safety.

Under the new law, people will be fined Rs 10,000 for drunken driving, which was earlier Rs 2,000. The fine for dangerous driving has gone up from Rs 1,000 to Rs 5,000.

Union Road Transport and Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari recently defended the high penalty under the new Act, saying the idea behind it was to make people conform to rules, and asked what was more important, lives or money.

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