Evading the Police: Indian Traffic Laws

 Many times in our day to day life, we ignore or avoid certain rules and regulations while we are on the road, like ignoring traffic signals, instructions by the traffic police etc. Sometimes many people, if stopped by the police for inquiry, avoid that inquiry and try to ‘evade the police’ either intentionally or unintentionally. Now the question is will this kind of act amount to crime? In this article the consequences of such acts will be discussed thoroughly for a brief understanding. Also this article aims to discuss whether there are any kind of laws or any kind of legal liabilities regarding such acts. This article is drafted only after a thorough and detailed analysis.

Introduction 

The actual meaning of the word ‘evade’ is to escape or to avoid. But legally, evading the police not only means to avoid or escape the police but also means that an individual intentionally escaped even when the police officer ordered that individual to stop. The main elements which constitutes evade are:

  •  There must be an order to ‘stop’ by the police officer. The order may not be verbal, flashlights, red lights, even police sirens can also be there.  
  • The pursuing vehicle should be a police vehicle and the officer should be fully uniformed
  • There must be an intention to escape that order 
  • There must be a sign that the vehicle is a police vehicle so that one could understand 

One can also be held liable even if that individual was driving the vehicle but had no intentions to escape the police order, but the passenger in that vehicle ordered that individual to do so.  So, one should be realistic as well as responsible while driving or while on the road now the question is are there any laws regarding this kind of misdeeds? If there are laws, then how does that work in our country? 

These above raised questions will be discussed below. 

What are the Traffic Laws in India? 

As India has the second largest road networks in the world, there are certain rules and regulations regarding the traffic system in the country. Those laws are provided under the Motor Vehicles Act but this evolved from time to time:

  • Indian Motor Vehicles Act, 1914
  • Motor Vehicles Act, 1939
  • Motor Vehicles Act, 1988
  • Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 2019 

Despite having so many amendments and developments in traffic laws, in 2018 India faced around 4.18lakhs road accidents and around 1lakh people lost their lives in road accidents. Also according to the United Nation Economic and Social Commission for Asia and Pacific , India faces $58 loses annually only due to road accidents. 

There are some basic rules and regulations drafted for the ones who travel or drive and it is necessary to follow those rules and regulations otherwise they have to face penalties. Some of the important laws regarding traffic will be discussed below.

Who can drive a Vehicle?

Motor Vehicle Act, 1988

Section 39 of this act says: “No person shall drive any motor vehicle and no owner of a motor vehicle shall cause or permit the vehicle to be driven in any public place or any other place unless the vehicle is registered “

So, according to this section it is necessary for everyone to register their vehicle to gain the ownership and can drive that vehicle to any place legally. This section also restricts an individual to drive any vehicle without registration 

Section 192 (1) of this act says: “Whoever drives a motor vehicle or causes or allows a motor vehicle to be used in contravention of the provisions of section 39 shall be punishable for the first offence with a fine which may extend to five thousand rupees but shall not be less than two thousand rupees for a second subsequent offence with imprisonment which may extend to one year or with fine which may extend to ten thousand rupees”

So, basically this section speaks about the penalties one could face if their vehicle is not registered or if they are driving someone else’s vehicle. And the state is wholly responsible to implement these laws in a proper and positive manner. 

Before buying a new vehicle one needs to apply to the RTO (Regional Transport Officer) to register and there are several procedures to register their ownership such as filling the application, providing proof of identification, etc. 

Central Motor Vehicle Act, 1988

Section 3 of this act says: “No person shall drive a motor vehicle in any public place unless he holds an effective driving license issued to him authorizing him to drive the vehicle” 

So, according to this section an individual needs a driving license to drive a vehicle. Now the question is what is a driving license? A driving license is the proof that shows the driver is completely eligible to drive the vehicle. There are various kinds of driving licenses, some of the types of driving license are:

  • Learner’s License: This kind of license is only valid for six months. The Road Transport Authority issues this license only to polish the driving skills of an amateur driver. This license is provided only to the owner of a Light Motor Vehicle (LMV). No one under the age of 18 gets a learner’s license. 
  • Permanent License: After the six months of the learner’s license, the Road Transport Authority issues the permanent license after they pass the driver’s exam. The one getting the license should be 18 years or more. This permanent license is issued to private cars, bikes, etc. 
  • Commercial Driving License: This kind of license is issued to drivers to carry heavy goods or materials on a vehicle for business purposes. To get this license one must pass their eighth standard examination. This is for not only the safety of the driver but also the safety of others. 
  • International Driving License: To get a permission to drive internationally one needs to apply for an International Driving Permit. To get an International Driving Permit one needs to have a permanent license. This driving permit has a validity of only one year and one need to renew that driving permit after 1 year. 
  • Duplicate Driving License: This kind of driving license is provided in case of theft, loss or any kind of emergency. There are certain procedures which are required to get a duplicate license. This duplicate license works as an original license though it is always better to keep an extra photocopy of the driving license.  

Motor Vehicles Act, 1988

Section 19 of this act says about the suspension of a driving license. This suspension may be caused by the death or any irrecoverable wounds. A driver’s license can also be suspended by a higher authority if the driver commits any kind of crime or violates any kind of traffic rules and regulations. One’s license can also get suspended if they become a drunkard or a drug addict or addicted to any psychotropic substance.  

Case Analysis 

State Transport Police Station Lodhi Road v. Sanjeev Nanda 

In this case the respondent was driving his car rashly and hit seven other people and it caused severe injury to those victims. A case was filed against the respondent by the state transport police station under the Section 201, and Section 34 of IPC for driving his car roughly. It was held that the accident occurred in an unintentional manner and the whole situation was not foreseeable. If there was both intention and death then it will be a culpable homicide. But the court finally held that though there was no intention to cause the deaths but the driver had complete knowledge about the consequences of his act, and hence the respondent was held liable under section 304 (2) of the Indian Penal Code because the accident was caused due to rash and rough driving. 

Avishek Goenka v. Union of India 

In this case the Hon’ble Supreme Court imposed a ban on the use of black, dark or reflective glasses on vehicles. According to Supreme Court this kind of glasses helps the criminal to commit crimes like kidnapping, rape very easily as no one can see what’s actually going on inside the vehicle. Also the petitioner in this case mentions that in many developed and developing countries use of black or dark mirrors are not allowed and in many countries they are completely banned. The Supreme Court also says that if someone violates this ban then there will be penalties as well the glass will have to be changed on the spot. This ban came into existence on May 4, 2012

Conclusion

Though there are several laws drafted by the government to ensure safety on the road, the implementation of such laws are very poor. Many police officers in charge of the traffic , receives bribes from a wrong doer and this helps that individual to escape and this is the only main reason why the rate of violation of traffic rules are increasing day by day. Also the amount of fines is very small and this is also another reason for an increase in violation of the traffic rules. The government should be stricter about the safety on roads and put much more efforts to implement those laws in a proper as well as in a positive manner.   


References

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