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Report No. 234

(ii) Motor Vehicles Act, 1988

2.11 The Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 (MV Act) is the principal instrument for regulating motor vehicles. Chapter II relates to licensing of drivers of motor vehicles, wherein section 19 confers power on the licensing authority to disqualify any person from holding a driving licence or revoke such licence, if h.-

(a) is a habitual criminal or a habitual drunkard; or

(b) is a habitual addict to any narcotic drug or psychotropic substance; or

(c) is using or has used a motor vehicle in the commission of a cognizable offence; or

(d) has, by his previous conduct as driver of a motor vehicle shown that his driving is likely to be attended with danger to the public; or

(e) has obtained any driving licence or a licence to drive a particular class or description of motor vehicle by fraud or misrepresentation; or

(f) has committed any such act which is likely to cause nuisance or danger to the public, as may be prescribed by the Central Government, having regard to the objects of this Act; or

(g) has failed to submit to, or has not passed, the tests referred to in the proviso to sub-section (3) of Section 22; or

(h) being a person under the age of eighteen years who has been granted a learner's licence or a driving licence with the consent in writing of the person having the care of the holder of the licence and has ceased to be in such care.

2.12 We may now note the provisions of sections 20 to 23 of the MV Act, extracts whereof are reproduced below:

Section 20. Power of Court to disqualify. "(1) Where a person is convicted of an offence under this Act or of an offence in the commission of which a motor vehicle was used, the Court by which such person is convicted may, subject to the provisions of this Act, in addition to imposing any other punishment authorized by law, declare the person so convicted to be disqualified, for such period as the Court may specify, from holding any driving licence to drive all classes or description of vehicles, or any particular class or description of such vehicles, as are specified in such licence:

Provided that in respect of an offence punishable under section 183 no such order shall be made for the first or second offence.

(2) Where a person is convicted of an offence under clause (c) of sub-section (1) of section 132, section 134 or section 185, the Court convicting any person of any such offence shall order the disqualification under sub-section (1), and if the offence is relatable to clause (c) of sub-section (1) of section 132 or section 134, such disqualification shall be for a period of not less than one month, and if the offence is relatable to section 185, such disqualification shall be for a period of not less than six months.

(3) A Court shall, unless for special reasons to be recorded in writing it thinks fit to order otherwise, order the disqualification of a person,-

(a) who having been convicted of an offence punishable under section 184 is again convicted of an offence punishable under that section;

(b) who is convicted of an offence punishable under section 189; or

(c) who is convicted of an offence punishable under section 192:

Provided that the period of disqualification shall not exceed, in the case referred to in clause (a), five years, or in the case referred to in clause (b), two years or, in the case referred to in clause (c), one year.

(4) A Court ordering the disqualification of a person convicted of an offence punishable under section 184 may direct that such person shall, whether he has previously passed the test of competence to drive as referred to in sub-section (3) of section 9 or not, remain disqualified until he has subsequent to the making of the order of disqualification passed that test to the satisfaction of the licensing authority."

Section 21. Suspension of driving licence in certain cases. "(1) Where, in relation to a person who had been previously convicted of an offence punishable under section 184, a case is registered by a police officer on the allegation that such person has, by such dangerous driving as is referred to in the said section 184, of any class or description of motor vehicle caused the death of, or grievous hurt to, one or more persons, the driving licence held by such person shall in relation to such class or description of motor vehicle become suspended,-

(a) for a period of six months from the date on which the case is registered; or

(b) if such person is discharged or acquitted before the expiry of the period aforesaid, until such discharge or acquittal, as the case may be."

Section 22. Suspension or cancellation of driving licence on conviction. "(1) Without prejudice to the provisions of sub-section 19(3) of section 20, where a person, referred to in sub-section (1) of section 21, is convicted of an offence of causing, by such dangerous driving as is referred to in section 184 of any class or description of motor vehicle, the death of, or grievous hurt to, one or more persons, the Court by which such person is convicted may cancel, or suspend, for such period as it may think fit, the driving licence held by such person in so far as it relates to that class or description of motor vehicle.

(2) Without prejudice to the provisions of sub-section (2) of section 20, if a person, having been previously convicted of an offence punishable under section 185, is again convicted of an offence punishable under that section, the Court, making such subsequent conviction, shall, by order, cancel the driving licence held by such person."

Section 23. Effect of disqualification order. "(1) A person in respect of whom any disqualification order is made under section 19 or section 20 shall be debarred to the extent and for the period specified in such order from holding or obtaining a driving licence and the driving licence, if any, held by such person at the date of the order shall cease to be effective to such extent and during such period."

2.13 Chapter VIII of the MV Act deals with the control of traffic. Section 112 pertains to limits of speed and prohibits driving of a motor vehicle or it being allowed to be driven in any public place at a speed exceeding the maximum permissible speed. Rule 118 of the Central Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989 provides for notified transport vehicles to be fitted with a speed governor in such a manner that the speed governor can be sealed with an official seal in such a way that it cannot be removed or tampered with without the seal being broken. 1 20provides for limits of weight and limitations on use.

Section 118 confers power on the Central Government to make regulations for the driving of motor vehicles. Accordingly, the Rules of the Road Regulations, 1989 have been made. Section 119 provides for the duty to obey traffic signs. Section 129 provides for the wearing of helmets. Various other provisions are contained in Chapter VIII for regulation of traffic.

1. The Karnataka High Court has very recently directed the State Government to ensure that no new public transport vehicles shall be registered in the State unless they are fitted with speed governors and gave three months to owners to fit all old vehicles (which have already been registered) with speed governors (vide The Hindu, New Delhi, 01.07.2008).

2.14 The Rules of the Road Regulations, 1989 contain detailed provisions regulating driving of motor vehicles, like keeping left, overtaking prohibited, caution at road junction, right of way to pedestrians, signals to be given by drivers, parking, visibility of lamps and registration marks, lane driving, respecting stop sign on road surface, distance from vehicles in front, no abrupt brake except for safety reasons, no projection of loads, non-carriage of dangerous substances on any public service vehicle, restriction on driving backwards, carrying of documents, viz., driving licence, certificate of registration, certificate of insurance of the vehicle and in case of transport vehicle the permit and fitness certificate also.

2.15 Chapter XIII of the MV Act relates to offences, penalties and procedure. Section 177 contains the general provision for punishment of offences, which is available in the absence of any specific provision for punishment applicable in a given case; the punishment is a maximum fine of Rs. 100/- for the first offence and for the subsequent offence it is only Rs. 300/-. Section 183 provides the punishment for contravention of the speed limits referred to in section 112. Section 184 provides for punishment for dangerous driving and section 185 for driving by a drunken person or a person under the influence of drugs. These sections read as under:

Section 184. Driving dangerously. "Whoever drives a motor vehicle at a speed or in a manner which is dangerous to the public, having regard to all the circumstances of the case including the nature, condition and use of the place where the vehicle is driven and the amount of traffic which actually is at the time or which might reasonably be expected to be in the place, shall be punishable for the first offence with imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months or with fine which may extend to one thousand rupees, and for any second or subsequent offence, if committed within three years of the commission of a previous similar offence, with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine which may extend to two thousand rupees, or with both."

Section 185. Driving by a drunken person or by a person under the influence of drugs. "Whoever, while driving, or attempting to drive, a motor vehicle,-

(a) has, in his blood, alcohol exceeding 30 mg. per 100ml. of blood detected in a test by a breath analyzer, or

(b) is under this influence of drug to such an extent as to be incapable of exercising proper control over the vehicle, shall be punishable for the first offence with imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months, or with fine which may extend to two thousand rupees, or with both; and for a second or subsequent offence, if committed within three years of the commission of the previous similar offence, with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine which may extend to three thousand rupees, or with both.

Explanation.- For the purposes of this section, the drug or drugs specified by the Central Government in this behalf, by notification in the Official Gazette, shall be deemed to render a person incapable of exercising proper control over a motor vehicle."

2.16 Section 184 deals with reckless driving dangerous to the public having regard to all the circumstances of the case. Offence defined under section 184 and the offence under section 279, IPC are essentially the same. No person is supposed to drive a motor vehicle on any public way 22in a manner which may endanger human life or is likely to cause hurt or injury to any other person. The law casts a duty on every user of the road or public way to exercise due care and caution while driving a motor vehicle.

The amount of care and caution required to be exercised by a driver while driving on a public way would, of course, depend upon the situation and circumstances in which he is driving. The doctrine of contributory negligence has no application in criminal law. Contributory negligence may be a factor for consideration in determining the sentence, but it is not a defence entitling the accused to an acquittal.



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