Automakers may face Rs 100 cr fine for violating safety rules

Car sales hit the slow lane in May

  Automakers may have to cough up a stringent penalty of Rs 100 crore and compulsorily order a recall for faulty designs and absence of necessary safety features in their vehicles.

The new Road Safety Bill may also provide for a penalty of up to Rs 5,000 on individuals for use of unauthorised components and other manufacturing or maintenance-related violations, such as in fog lights, pressure horns, extra lights, roof-top carriers and metallic protectors.

The dealers and vehicle body builders would face a fine of up to Rs one lakh per vehicle for such offences. Besides, the component dealers would be fined up to Rs one lakh for "selling non-approved critical safety components for vehicles".

These proposed penal provisions form part of recommendations made by a panel of state transport ministers, set up by the Centre to frame stricter traffic and road safety rules.

For the automakers, the panel has suggested "stringent penalties to the extent of Rs 100 crore for non-compliance of automobile regulations by automobile companies and power to order compulsory recall within stipulated time frame".

The panel, headed by Rajasthan Transport Minister Yunoos Khan, in its preliminary recommendations has proposed these penalties for contravening the provisions relating to construction and maintenance of vehicles, for which the current rules provide for a fine of Rs 1,000 for first offence and Rs 5,000 for subsequent offences.

The final recommendations are expected to be in place this month.

The panel has unanimously agreed to framing strict and steeper penalties that include imprisonment for offences like driving by minors, crossing speed limits, drunk driving, talking over phone while driving and jumping traffic lights.

It also recommends jail of up to a year in addition to a penalty of Rs 10,000 for those driving with fake licences -- up from the current penalty provision of Rs 500 and a maximum jail term of three months.

In case of juvenile drivers, the owner of the vehicle or the driver's guardian will face stricter penalties of up to three years in jail and fine of up to Rs 20,000, while their vehicle registration certificate may also be cancelled.

After failing to push new Road Safety Bill in Parliament, the Centre had constituted the group of ministers (GoM) for further consultation and reaching a consensus on stricter traffic rules.

Road safety has been a matter of great concern in India with an average of 1.5 lakh fatalities every year in road accidents across the country.