Few days after Modi government prescribed steep penalties for traffic violations under an amended law, five BJP states have decided to cut them in their respective jurisdictions on humanitarian grounds. To the surprise, leading the charge are BJP-ruled states. Surprisingly, leading the charge are the BJP-ruled states.
Vijay Rupani government in Gujarat was the first state to reduce fines prescribed under the amended Motor Vehicles Act on Tuesday, taking it down to as low as 10% of the actual amount for some offences.
Similarly, other BJP-ruled states such as Maharashtra, Goa and Karnataka came up with similar announcements soon afterwards, pointing that they may also consider making changes at their end if the government did not reconsider, or at least slash , the newly prescribed penalties that they say could become a burden on the people.
Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, which was implemented on September 1, made several far-reaching changes on existing traffic penalty charts. In the days that followed, an autorickshaw driver in Bhubaneswar was fined ₹47,500 for violating several traffic rules. A truck owner from Rajasthan was charged ₹1,41,000 for overloading his vehicle. A Delhi resident - angered over being fined by a traffic policeman -took the drastic step of setting his motorcycle on fire.
On Wednesday, Maharashtra's BJP-Shiv Sena government termed the new penalties prescribed under the amended law as "exorbitant" and stayed its implementation. State Transport Minister Diwakar Raote appealed to the centre to "reconsider and reduce" the hefty fines imposed on the people.
Goa government said that it will consider implementing the law only after fulfilling its "moral responsibility" of repairing all potholed roads in its territory. "We will enforce the amended fines from January next year," said State Transport Minister Mauvin Godinho, effectively buying the Pramod Sawant government some much-needed time.
BJP-ruled Karnataka government has decided to take a page from the Gujarat government's handbook of traffic regulations. "The papers have reported what Gujarat has done. I will get a copy of that order and see what can be done to prevent penalties from getting too high," Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa said.