NEW DELHI: The road transport ministry has written to state governments to implement the amended motor vehicle law citing the opinion given by the country’s top law officer. The attorney general (AG) has said that no state government can reduce traffic fines on their own, which is less than the minimum notified amount in the Central law, unless there is President’s assent.

Till now only eight states have notified the law and a few of them have flouted the legal provisions of the central Act by reducing fine for traffic offences, which is even less than the benchmark fixed by the Centre. Attorney general, KK Venugopal has also opined that disobedience of Centre’s order “could well attract the provisions of Article 356 of the Constitution of India.”

TOI on December 6 had first reported about the AG’s opinion.

The road transport and highways ministry had notified the law on September 1 and later it had notified over 60 sections including 24 compoundable offences. BJP-ruled Gujarat was the first state to reduce the fines below the benchmark amount notified by the road transport ministry and many other states followed this. This had prompted the transport ministry to seek legal opinion whether the states could set penalties below the prescribed range under compoundable offences. In non-compoundable offences, the states cannot go below the prescribed limit.

“The AG’s opinion has put all confusion to rest including what power the states have with regard to this law. The amended Act aims to make roads safe by introducing stringent penalties for offenders of traffic and transport rules and also to check irregularities. Many states, which were on board when penalties were finalised in meeting of a group of state transport ministers (GoM), had later taken a U-turn. Now we hope every state will follow the central law,” said an official.

Venugopal had opined that since amended MV Act is a parliamentary legislation, states cannot pass any law or issue any executive order to fix the penalty below the statutory provision of the central law without assent from President of India. He had also said that under Article-256 of the Constitution the central government can issue directions to states to follow suit.

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