The All India Motor Transport Congress (AIMTC) has stated that there was widespread resentment among truck owners and driver over the drastic laws with regard to hit and run cases.
In a letter to PM Narendra Modi and Union home minister Amit Shah, Malkit Singh Bal, chairman of the core committee, and other office-bearers said, "While the intention behind introducing stringent measures to address hit-and-run incidents may be benign, there are significant lacunae in the proposed law that require urgent reconsideration. The transport sector and the truck drivers, a vital contributor to the nation's economy, are deeply apprehensive about the potential ramifications of this legislation."
Law introduced without any consultation with stakeholders
The AIMTC said the proposed law has been introduced without any consultation with stakeholders, particularly representatives from the transport sector. This oversight is critical, as the lack of input from those directly affected may result in unintended consequences during implementation.
"India is currently grappling with a shortage of drivers in the transport industry, which is around 27%. The stringent provisions, including a 10-year jail term, have the potential to discourage individuals from entering or continuing in the drivers’ profession. This could exacerbate the existing shortage and lead to disruptions in the country's supply chains," the apex organisation of the road transport industry warned.
"Lack of accident investigation protocol in the country"
"There is utter lack of accident investigation protocol in the country. The proposed law does not outline a comprehensive investigation protocol for hit-and-run cases. Clarity is required on determining culpability, especially in situations where a vehicle is struck from behind or the fault lies with the driver of the smaller vehicle . Without a proper investigation, unjust accusations against certain vehicles may prevail," the letter noted.
Currently, an unsaid rule of blaming the larger vehicles is blindly followed in the country, without considering scenarios as to who is at fault. A fair investigation into the causes of accidents, rather than automatic blame on heavy vehicles, is crucial for justice.
In many hit-and-run cases, the driver does not flee with the intention of evading responsibility for the accident. Instead, they run to safeguard their life from the threat posed by an angry mob and local residents. The lack of security on the road compels them to take such measures. It is noteworthy that, in numerous instances, the driver willingly surrenders to the police and undergoes the necessary court proceedings in accordance with the law.
Transport fraternity deeply concerned of such draconian law
"The transport fraternity is deeply concerned that the enforcement of such a draconian law without addressing these issues may lead to a sudden disruption in the supply chains across the country. The transport industry is a lynchpin in the economic machinery, and any disruption could have severe consequences,'' the Congress observed.
The proposed legislation is against the transport sector of India and is causing a strong wave of unrest among the truck drivers community across the country and they are leaving their jobs as such. ``We request you to reconsider the proposed legislation, taking into account the viewpoints of the transport industry. A collaborative and balanced approach is essential to ensure that justice is served without adversely affecting an industry already facing several challenges," Mr Bal said.