NEW DELHI: Almost every third driving licence in India could be ‘bogus’ with a staggering number of over five crore people driving on roads with fake documents, according to official data.
However, those found to be driving with fake licences may soon be jailed for up to a year in addition to a hefty penalty of Rs. 10,000 — up from the current penalty provision of Rs. 500 and a maximum jail term of three months.
In case of juvenile drivers, the owner of the vehicle or the driver’s guardian will face stricter penalties of up to three years in jail and fine of up to Rs. 20,000, while their vehicle registration certificate may also be cancelled.
“In India, 30 per cent of the licences are bogus. We need to check it. We are going to start an online system where computerised tests will be conducted to obtain driving licences. Every one — whether a politician, an official or a celebrity — will have to take the test to get the licence. There will be complete transparency,” Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari told news agency PTI.
An official said the Ministry has collated data of about 18 crore licences and an estimated 5.4 crore of them fall under the “bogus” category, which need to be checked.
An earlier government survey of about six crore driving licences had found nearly 74 lakh fake ones.
Terming the Road Transport and Safety Bill as key to make Indian roads safer, Mr Gadkari said an estimated 1.5 lakh people die every year in the country in road accidents and the proposed law will overhaul the entire system including about issuance of driving licences.
“We are hopeful that the Bill would get passed in the next session of Parliament with states on board now on this matter as the subject falls in the concurrent list,” he said.
Mr Gadkari said the Bill has been facing delays due to opposition from “vested interests” in Regional Transport Offices who are opposed to “transparency and computerisation”.
Besides computerisation, the government also plans to set up 5,000 new driving centres, he added.
A Group of Ministers, headed by Rajasthan Transport Minister Yunoos Khan, has submitted its preliminary report that proposes hefty penalty for traffic violations.
The final report is expected by the next month, after which the Bill should be passed in Parliament, the minister said.
Sources said the preliminary report has suggested that if a person is found “driving after disqualification under the Act or applying or obtaining license without disclosing the fact”, he or she will face imprisonment up to one year and a fine of up to Rs. 10,000.
The GoM has also recommended that the guardian of a juvenile caught driving may face imprisonment of up to three years and fine up to Rs. 20,000, besides cancellation of the vehicle registration.
Guardian or owner of the vehicle would be liable for offence committed by the juvenile and would face punishment for abetment to the offence. It would be presumed that such use of vehicle was with the consent of the owner or the guardian, as per the GoM recommendations.
In case of grievous hurt or death caused by the juvenile’s act of driving, the driver would be sentenced to Children’s Home and there will be “no provision of bail” if the driver has been previously challanned for any offence under the Motor Vehicles Act.
The GoM, tasked to frame the Bill to make significant modifications to the Central Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, has come out with several other suggestions for stricter punishment for the rule breakers. The GoM includes seven transport ministers from various states, including Karnataka, Rajasthan, Goa and Haryana.