Goa to slash hefty fines for traffic violations: Minister


The Goa government is considering softening the impact of the amended Motor Vehicles (MV) Act, which mandates hefty fines and penalties for traffic violators.

In the wake of severe criticism of the poor road infrastructure as well as the Goa Legislative Assembly elections slated for early next year, the state government has decided to revise the traffic rules, sources said.

After delaying the implementation of the modified central act, first due to the onset of the pandemic and secondly due to a lack of consensus in the state cabinet, Goa’s Transport Minister Mauvin Godinho has said that the state rules for the amended MV norms would be put in place soon, but fines imposed would be the minimum as prescribed under the amended legislation, pushed by the road transport ministry and aimed at making the roads safer.

“We have done homework on the Motor Vehicle Act. For any offence, the law has given a zone of consideration in fines from Rs 500 to Rs 5,000. So, from Rs 100 at present the fine will go up to Rs 500,” Godinho said.

Other traffic offences, for which fines have been hiked to between Rs 1,000 and Rs 8,000, they have been limited to Rs 1,000, he added.

“We have kept the fines at the minimum, because we do not want to fine people a lot,” Godinho said.

While a formal cabinet decision vis-a-vis implementation of the MV Act has not been taken yet, Goa is not the only Indian state to have taken a minimalist view as far as imposition of the steep fines, which the law that was amended in 2019, mandates.

Soon after the amended MV Act was passed in the Parliament, Gujarat was one of the first states to implement it and notify the rules, but only after reducing the new fine structure. Other state governments like Uttarakhand and Karnataka have also tweaked and lowered the quantum of fines listed in the central law.

According to a Goa Minister, the steep fines in the amended law were unpopular and to impose such fines with the state assembly elections around a year away would incur the electoral wrath of the public.

“People are not used to paying such fines. It would not make political sense to implement such a law with elections around the corner. Such fines would come as a shock to the people of Goa, especially when Covid-19 has already caused economic hardship to the people,” a Minister said on condition of anonymity.

While Goa initially dilly dallied drafting and notifying state rules for the central law, the emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic led to further delay in its implementation.

Godinho also cited poor road conditions in Goa, as one of the reasons for not implementing the central traffic law, saying that unless the roads are made less accident prone, it would be unwise to implement the amended MV Act.

“We are very conscious that the roads are not as good as they should be. When the roads are good, we will implement the act as soon as possible,” the Minister added.