- Several states object to new steep fines for traffic violations
- Nitin Gadkari says fines aim to save lives
- Death penalty deters rape, heavy fines will deter violations, he said
States will be responsible if they try to dilute traffic violation fines, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari said Wednesday as the ruling BJP was embarrassed by its own government in Gujarat slashing fines under an amended law cleared by parliament recently.
"To those states who are refusing to enforce the fines, isn't life more important than money? This was done to save lives," Mr Gadkari, the Road Transport Minister, told NDTV in an interview.
"People need to have a fear of law. Why was the death penalty for rape after the Nirbhaya case? To create a fear of the law."
Yesterday, BJP-ruled Gujarat announced that the fines would be reduced by 90 per cent, even though the party's government at the centre pushed for steep new penalties under the new Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act. Today, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, one of the BJP's fiercest critics, said the fines were too harsh, that they wouldn't apply in her state.
Pressed on whether he could force states to fall in line, Mr Gadkari remarked: "Jisko karna hai kare, na karna na kare (those who want to enforce it can do it. Those who don't, need not."
On Gujarat going the way of many non-BJP states that have resisted the new rules, Mr Gadkari said, referring to Chief Minister Vijay Rupani: "If he thinks he can do that, then maybe he was taken a considered decision."
He added: "It's time that the country thinks about saving lives...1,50,000 people get killed on the roads in a year and 65 per cent of them are 18-35 years old. They haven't been killed in terror strikes or riots.. This (the new law), was done to save lives. That is my first objective, but I need the cooperation of state governments. This should be above parties and state governments."
Defending the new rules, the minister said these were drafted after consultations and studying the laws in the UK, Canada, California and Argentina.
"I will tell all chief ministers to get into this. I will speak to them if I have to," said Mr Gadkari.
Referring to the long queues of car-owners rushing to get their pollution all-clear to avoidn hefty fines, Mr Gadkari said: "It is a blessing in disguise...Should we not bother about clean air for our future generations?"