Centre postpones enforcement of key road safety provision

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Truck drivers protesting against hit and run law in Ghaziabad on January 2
Truck drivers protesting against hit and run law in Ghaziabad on January 2 | Photo Credit: Sakib Ali / Getty Images

NEW DELHI — The Government of India announced on Saturday its decision to postpone the enforcement of Sub Section (2) of Section 106 of the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, which pertains to ‘causing death through reckless and negligent driving of a vehicle.’

The move comes in response to widespread protests staged by truckers against this specific provision in various states across India.

According to a notification from the Ministry of Home Affairs, cited in a LiveLaw report, the Central government has designated July 1, 2024, as the commencement date for the provisions of the Sanhita, excluding sub-section (2) of section 106. This decision is made under the authority granted by sub-section (2) of section 1 of the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, 2023 (45 of 2023).

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Although passed by Parliament on December 21, 2023, and receiving the President’s assent on December 25, 2023, these laws were awaiting enforcement, subject to a date determined by the Indian government.

Transporters and auto-driver associations across India have been protesting against the new law on hit-and-run incidents since last month. Under the Bharatiya Nyay Sanhita (BNS), which replaced the Indian Penal Code, drivers who cause serious road accidents by negligent driving and flee without informing the police or any official from the administration can face punishment of up to 10 years or a fine of Rs. 7 lakh. This is a significant increase from the earlier punishment of two years under the Indian Penal Code.

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Private transport operators argue that the law discourages drivers and could lead to unjust punishments. They express concerns that drivers may face mob violence when attempting to transport the injured to hospitals and demand the repeal of the law.

While opposing the new law, All India Motor & Goods Transport Association President, Rajendra Kapoor, last month stated that their only demand from the government is that the decision should have been taken after having consultations with all stakeholders. “There was no discussion with anyone on this, and no one was asked about this. There should have been prior meetings and consultations.”

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