Centre Suspends Law On ‘Hit-And-Run’ Punishment Amid Protests

Government Postpones New Law on Hit-and-Run Cases After Transporters’ Protests

The government of India has decided to delay the implementation of a new law that would impose harsh penalties on drivers who cause fatal accidents by reckless driving and flee the scene. The law, which is part of the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS) that replaced the Indian Penal Code and other criminal laws, was supposed to come into force on July 1, 2023. However, after facing strong opposition from transporters and auto-drivers across the country, the government has pushed the date to July 1, 2024.

What is the new law?

According to the BNS, drivers who cause death or grievous hurt by negligent driving and fail to report the incident to the police or any authority within a reasonable time can be punished with imprisonment of up to 10 years or a fine of up to Rs 7 lakh or both. The law also states that the driver has a duty to take the injured person to the nearest hospital or medical facility. The law aims to deter hit-and-run cases and ensure justice for the victims and their families.

Why are transporters against it?

Transporters and auto-drivers have been protesting against the new law since last month, claiming that it is unfair and unrealistic. They argue that the law does not consider the ground realities of road accidents in India, where drivers often face mob violence, false accusations, and extortion. They also fear that the law will lead to arbitrary arrests and convictions of innocent drivers. They demand that the government should consult the stakeholders and amend the law to make it more reasonable and practical.

What is the government’s response?

The Ministry of Home Affairs issued a notification on Saturday, stating that the government has decided to postpone the enforcement of the sub-section (2) of section 106 of the BNS, which deals with the hit-and-run cases, till July 1, 2024. The notification said that the government has taken this decision after considering the representations made by various associations and bodies of transporters and auto-drivers. The notification also said that the government will review the law and make necessary changes in consultation with the concerned parties.

The government’s move has been welcomed by the transporters and auto-drivers, who have called off their protests for now. However, some road safety activists and legal experts have expressed their disappointment and concern over the delay in the implementation of the law, which they believe is crucial for reducing road fatalities and ensuring accountability of drivers. They have urged the government to expedite the process of reviewing and amending the law and ensure its timely enforcement.