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Lok Sabha passes Motor Vehicles Bill to simplify registration, improve road safety

FE Bureau

The Lok Sabha on Tuesday approved, through a voice vote, the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2019, that seeks to simplify vehicle registration, improve transport systems and ensure safety of vehicles and on the road, among others.

While the intention is to overhaul the sector with a slew of reforms to pave way for private and foreign direct investment (FDI) amidst a crunch in government funds, states are not happy with certain amendments that empower the Centre to maintain registers of vehicles and driving licences, subsuming all such registers hitherto maintained by them.

"No certificate of registration issued, or renewed, under this Act shall be valid unless it has been issued a unique registration number under the National Register of Motor Vehicles," the Bill proposed. Opposition members, cutting across party-line, dubbed such proposals against fabric of coopeartive federalism.

Replying to a debate on the Bill, road transport and highways minister Nitin Gadkari, however, tried to assuage such apprehensions, saying that since transport is on the concurrent list, there would be no infringement on states' administrative power. It will be left open to the states to adopt the provisions of the Bill. "We will not take away any power of the states. If some states do not like to adopt the policy, they would be free to do that. It is not a mandatory policy," Gadkari said.

One important provision of the Bill is to a National Transportation Policy with a view to establish a planning framework within which transport bodies and all forms of road transport would operate. The policy would also frame guidelines for taxi aggregators such as Ola and Uber.

At present, for registration, a new vehicle requires physical inspection. It does not add any value but only delay the registration process. Under the proposed amendment, the dealer will need to register the new vehicle and registration can be done anywhere in the state.
As the public transport sector suffers from inefficiency and poor quality, last-minute connectivity, rural transport and better facilities for common people have been thought of under the Bill.

While the safety of a vehicle is assessed only manually now, the new Bill sets rules for checking vehicle fitness and sets standards for testing centres. Compulsory recall for defective vehicles has also been provisioned.