Refusal to recall car to attract steep fines

The changed draft of the Central Road Transport and Safety Bill proposes a fine of Rs 100,000 a vehicle if its maker does not recall a defective one.

Version Four says directors of a company could face imprisonment of three months for not complying with the norms. Also, it calls for a fine of Rs 50,000 a vehicle for the manufacture of faulty ones and/or three-month imprisonment. This seeks to plug a gap in the law exposed in a 2013 recall of 114,000 Taveras by General Motors, where it had allegedly fudged emission data.

The earlier draft had proposed a penalty of Rs 500,000 a faulty vehicle and/or imprisonment of three months. A recall proposal, where a national authority had the power to enforce a recall if 100 or more people reported a vehicle defect that could cause harm to occupants, has been done away with.  

Car makers and their association said a decision to recall cars was always for makers to decide, anywhere in the world.

The draft also seems keen on keeping tabs on the data electronically stored in vehicles. All manufacturers shall make reasonable efforts to maintain the integrity of the electronic data stored in the onboard diagnostics system of a motor vehicle involved in a road crash, the draft states.

And, that a national authority has the power to provide for additional categories of driving licences. At present, eight kinds of licences are issued. Further, there is a proposal to reduce the age for securing a licence to drive a transport vehicle to 18 from the earlier proposal of 21.

Also, safety aspects in construction, design and maintenance of roads will form a major component. The Bill provides for stricter penalties to offenders, with fines of Rs 100,000 per person killed or Rs 50,000 per person disabled for failure to comply with the set standards levied on a company responsible for the construction and maintenance of a road.