Dec 14, 2017 03:02 PM IST | Source:

States can't be given judicial powers: Govt on Motor Vehicle Act amendment

Transport Ministry opines that states will have to set up tribunal if vested with powers of the judiciary

Nikita Vashisht @nikita_vashisht

The union ministry for road transport and highways is yet to decide on empowering states with judicial powers to compound cases of “petty/minor” traffic rule violations as judicial powers "can't be given to states".

“Although it only involves giving power to the states but how it has to be done needs to be looked at,” said an official, who wished not to be named. “The role of the judiciary cannot be given to the states”.

Law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had written to to the union minister of road transport, Nitin Gadkari in September, proposing amendment in the Motor Vehicle Bill to empower state governments to compound --acquitting the accused without trial-- “petty/minor” cases of traffic rules’ violation in the wake of mounting pending cases in the courts.

The letter said that amendment be made in the Act to “alter the jurisdiction of courts and vest the transport departments of the state governments with powers to adjudicate traffic challan cases”.

The official said, “At present, powers exist with the states” and that “it is only about dealing with the challans”.

“Most of the cases are dealt by states by way of compounding,” he added.

The letter, however, said that only 10 states have power of compounding including Delhi, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan and Puducherry.

The Motor Vehicles Amendment Bill has been long stuck in the Parliament and has failed to get the opposition’s assent. It is expected to be passed in the winter session.

Prasad had pointed that minor cases like over-speeding, jumping red light and wrong parking were being dragged to courts in the absence of compounding rights with the state transportation department.

According to government data, between 2010 and 2012, minor traffic violations’ cases were close to 39 percent of total cases. It was further noted that nine percent of the claims in High Court were related to accidents while four percent of the claims were pending at district levels.

Prasad had suggested accepting an “alternate mechanism” to solve these cases in the light of “limited resources” with the “overburdened” judiciary.

He had said that senior officials of the transport department of state governments must be “conferred with powers of civil courts” to solve such issues.

The official from the transport ministry said that required amendment shall be passed through the Parliament. However, states might have to agree to “setting up a tribunal”.
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