Carry more money, expensive motor laws on the way
Within a few days from now the entire country is going to have almost a brand new law on motor vehicles. The revamping of the old law is almost complete; the top boss will sign when it is placed before him. Some last moment changes are made here and there because of three amendments brought at the eleven hour. Anyways it is rolling out on the road very shortly. Beware – sellers, drivers, manufacturers, insurers, transporters, authorities etc.
Our transport minister is incredibly knowledgeable and his oratory skill is mind- blowing; he is the second best orator in the country at the moment. He could take the entire legislators including opposition along his stride. I am talking about our Federal Transport Minister . This does not mean that our State transport Minister is less able – look at the helicopters flying to Jiribam, Moreh etc – resuming shortly ; look at the State Transport Buses plying throughout the nook and corner of the State – after a long hibernation; look at the Ola/Uber type services led by Lamjingba.
The new law increases penalties for many offences. For instance the maximum penalty for driving under the influence of alcohol has been hiked from Rs 2000 to Rs 10000. It is for the entire country. However in our State this penalty is perhaps not applicable because we are a dry state ; there is no question of drunken driving. In a prohibited area how can we assume that the driver is driving under the influence of alcohol.
Beware violators , the new law proposes to increase penalties to act as deterrent against rule/law violations. More stringent provisions are being proposed in respect of offences like under-age driving, drunken driving, licence-less driving, dangerous driving, speeding, over-speeding, over-loading , driving without helmet etc. Penalties will be increased annually by 10%.
Proposed penalties – traveling without ticket penalty increased from Rs 200 to Rs 500. A person who is unable to pay Rs 200 for ticket , we are asking him to pay Rs 500; this is just my conjecture . The penalty for oversize vehicles will be Rs 5000 – rules will make us understand better ,I mean subordinate/delegated legislation. Then over-speeding fine goes up from Rs 400 to Rs 1000 ; the speeding fine goes up from Rs 500 to Rs 5000. I really don’t understand the difference between over-speeding and speeding. Isn’t it synonymous ? Perhaps legally not .
Fine for overloading of two-wheelers goes up from Rs 100 to Rs 2000 with disqualification for 3 months for licence; in a small town or village will a two wheeler rider pay Rs 2000 ? it is a million dollar question. We may impound his bike and licence or even put him in jail, still it will be difficult to extract Rs 2000.
Electronic devices will be used to detect traffic rules/laws violations. This is again appreciated. Apart from cosmopolitan and metropolitan cities in the country the so called electronic devices installed by the law enforcing agencies are hardly working. We don’t know the reason why ? If the CCTVs or other devices are not properly working the discretionary power goes to the officer/staff stationed at the spot. So we all know what discretionary power means in a remote area like ours.
For any offence we normally pay 50/100 off the record on the road-side. After the enforcement of this new stringent motor vehicle law the rate of the off the record payment will also be increased. Off the record road-side payment may increased to 100/200. Instead of paying the official heavy penalty people would prefer to pay a much lesser price that too without record. This is the best way to wriggle out from any legal or demi-legal hassles. The authorities are also at ease and the same time offenders also feel free from intricacies. Another interesting part is that traffic offences committed by law enforcing authorities - their penalties will be twice the penalty under the relevant section. In principle this is a good rule but in practice it is obviously futile.
The new law contemplates an efficient, safe and corruption free transport system in the country. So be it. In addition there is a proposal to formulate a National Transport Policy in consultation with the State Governments. When it happens let us try to give more emphasis on education and awareness instead of hinging more and more on rules , laws, penalties, punishment etc.
Laws hardly can change the behaviour of the masses until and unless people are ready for it. Education, awareness, self-discipline, playful-training, amusing -information, technology and above all imparting civic-sense ingrained with morality can do wonders. Smoking in public places is banned in the national capital - we know the ground reality? De jure we are dry but de facto we are wet. Anti-defection law is fumbling in many places. Can more stringent laws stop smoking, drinking or defection – just pondering ?