Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari today said he hopes there comes a day when no one gets penalised for traffic violations and everyone follows the rules. The comments came as cases are emerging from across the country of law-breaking motorists having to pay heavy fines after a new law came into effect on Sunday.
"We should respect and fear the rule of the law. Who will be responsible for accidents caused by those who don't follow traffic laws?" Mr Gadkari said.
"The government does not desire to raise the limits of the fine. The issue is that a time should come that no one gets penalised and everyone follows the rules," he added.
The new rules - which brand common offences like the use of cellphone while driving, jumping traffic lights and driving on the wrong lane as "dangerous driving" - came into effect on Sunday. The Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2019, was cleared by parliament last month.
On Tuesday, a scooter rider was fined Rs. 23,000 in Gurgaon for not carrying his vehicle's registration documents and his driving licence. In Bhubaneswar, a drunk autorickshaw driver was fined Rs. 47,500 for driving without a valid permit, licence and registration.
The hefty fines for traffic violations have triggered worry among motorists across the country. Mr Gadkari had said last month that the new law aims to instill fear in people who violate traffic rules, since an "intelligent traffic system" will monitor offences.
Under the new rules, the fine for drunk driving has been hiked from Rs. 2,000 to Rs. 10,000. Fine for driving without a seat-belt has been hiked from Rs. 100 to Rs.1,000. Using cellphones while driving can invite a fine between Rs. 1,000-5,000 - up from Rs.1,000.
Overspeeding can now invite a penalty between Rs. 1,000- Rs. 2,000.
Mr Gadkari and Congress MP Rahul Gandhi came under criticism on social media on Wednesday as Twitter users pulled out old photographs of the two politicians on two-wheelers without helmets, asking the police to take action.