Govt assures resolution on new hit-and-run laws
AIMTC urges drivers to end protest following reassurances
New Delhi: Truckers’ body All India Motor Transport Congress (AIMTC) on Tuesday said the government has assured that new laws concerning hit-and-run cases will be implemented after discussion with its members and urged truck drivers to call off their strike.
A government source said that the issue has been resolved after the meeting with Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla on Tuesday evening.
“The issue has been resolved,” the source said, while stressing that the new provisions under the Bharatiya Nyay Sanhita (BNS) have not been implemented yet.
AIMTC representatives met Union Home Secretary in the evening to discuss the new law on hit-and-run cases that proposes stringent up to 10 years jail term and Rs 7 lakh fine.
The meeting was held against the background of some truck, bus and tanker operators beginning a three-day strike on Monday against the stringent jail and fine regulations under the Bharatiya Nyay Sanhita (BNS) for hit-and-run cases. The punishment in such cases was 2 years in the British-era Indian Penal Code (IPC).
About 2,000 petrol pumps, mostly in western and northern India, ran out of fuel stocks due to the strike.
While state-owned oil firms had topped up tanks at most petrol pumps across the country in anticipation of the truckers’ strike, some petrol pumps in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Punjab ran out of stock due to heavy rush, industry officials said.
There were concerns that essential supplies of vegetables, fruits and milk too might be affected if the three-day strike is extended.
Under the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS), set to replace the Indian Penal Code, drivers who cause serious road accidents due to negligent driving and run away without informing authorities face up to 10 years in prison or a fine of Rs 7 lakh.
On Monday, some truck, bus and tanker operators began a three-day strike against the stringent regulations.
After the meeting with Home Secretary, AIMTC representatives told reporters that they will not allow the new laws to be implemented.
“Ye kanoon abhi tak laagu nahi hai (This law has not been implemented yet) … Ham ye kanoon laagu nahi hone denge (We will not allow these laws to be implemented),” AIMTC Chairman-organising committee Bal Mankit Singh said.
Singh also asked truckers to call off the agitation.
He also said that the government has assured that new laws concerning hit-and-run cases will be implemented after discussion with the AIMTC.
The number of road accidents in India went up by an alarming 12 per cent to over 4.6 lakh in 2022, resulting in the death of 19 persons every hour, according to a recent report by Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH).
The report showed that 53 road accidents take place every hour in the country.
“A total of 4,61,312 road accidents have been reported by states and Union Territories (UTs) during the calendar year 2022, which claimed 1,68,491 lives and caused injuries to 4,43,366 persons.
“This marks an increase of 11.9 per cent in accidents, 9.4 per cent in fatalities, and 15.3 per cent in injuries compared to the previous year,” the report titled ‘Road accidents in India — 2022’ had said.
‘Hit from Back’ accounted for the largest share in total accident deaths (19.5 per cent) in 2022 , followed by ‘Hit and Run’ and ‘Head on Collision’ which accounted for 18.1 per cent and 15.7 per cent, respectively.
Meanwhile, Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla said the decision to invoke a new penal provision related to hit-and-run cases, which has sparked protests by truckers, will be taken only after consultation with the All India Motor Transport Congress.
He also appealed to the AIMTC and all the agitating drivers to return to work.
“The government wants to point out that these new laws and provisions have not yet come into force. We would also like to point out that the decision to invoke Section 106 (2) of the Bharatiya Nyay Sanhita will be taken only after consultation with the All India Motor Transport Congress,” he said after a meeting with a delegation of the AIMTC.
Bhalla said the government has taken cognisance of the concerns of truckers regarding the provision of 10 years imprisonment and fine and held the detailed discussion with the representatives of the All India Motor Transport Congress.
Meanwhile, a home ministry spokesperson said the government also assured the delegation of agitating truckers that it is ready to consider with an “open heart” all their concerns on a new penal provision related to hit-and-run cases, and appealed them to return to work.
According to the BNS, “Whoever causes death of any person by rash and negligent driving of vehicle not amounting to culpable homicide, and escapes without reporting it to a police officer or a magistrate soon after the incident, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description of a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.”
The MHA spokesperson termed the meeting “successful”.