- Steering Road Safety in India Back onto the Right Lane
- Partisan Mischief/ On Governors Rejecting Bills
India’s road network presents a paradox, symbolizing both a vast and expanding opportunity for commuting, connecting, and fostering transportation and travel, as well as being integral to the nation’s modernization and remarkable economic growth. Despite this potential, the roads also serve as the breeding ground for a silent yet deadly pandemic, mirroring a global road safety challenge.
- GS- 2- Government Policies & Interventions
- GS- 3- Infrastructure
Ending the silent pandemic of road injuries will not only save lives but also strengthen the economy and improve the quality of life for everyone. Comment. (15 marks, 250 words).
Statistics on Road Accidents:
- Annually, an alarming 300,000 people are estimated to lose their lives on Indian roads, a figure equivalent to over 34 deaths per hour, constituting a conservative estimate by the World Health Organization (WHO).
- Additionally, countless individuals suffer life-altering injuries from road crashes, exerting a significant economic toll, estimated at 5% to 7% of the national GDP.
- India, although part of a global issue with 1.3 million road crash fatalities worldwide, stands out with almost one in every four road deaths occurring within its borders.
- A recent government report highlighting 2022 as the deadliest year for traffic crashes underscores the immediacy of action.
Reducing Road Accidents:
- On the occasion of the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims on November 19, these statistics serve as a poignant call to action.
- Urgent and coordinated interventions, backed by evidence, are necessary to curb the daily human tragedies reflected in these alarming figures.
- Addressing this requires strategic investments in road safety measures, unified political determination at various levels, and a collective shift in mindset, acknowledging that every individual is a road user in some capacity.
- Key areas of focus for improved safety include enforcing seatbelt usage not only for drivers but also passengers, as it significantly reduces the risk of fatalities and injuries.
- Similarly, strict enforcement of helmet use for motorcyclists and passengers is crucial, given its potential to reduce the risk of fatal injuries.
- Vulnerable road users, constituting a majority of road deaths, necessitate targeted attention, emphasizing the reduction of speeding, a zero-tolerance approach to drink-driving, and enhancing road infrastructure.
Steps Taken in This Regard:
- While the Sustainable Development Goals outline targets to reduce global deaths and injuries from road crashes, positive steps are already evident in India.
- Legislative measures such as the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 2019, and improved data collection contribute to a better understanding of crash dynamics.
- Adoption of modern technologies, like intelligent traffic management systems, by major cities and collaboration with the private sector on solutions are promising.
- However, the journey has just begun, and disparities in survival chances based on geographic location and access to emergency care emphasize the need for a comprehensive, safe-system approach tailored to India’s specific context.
To combat the silent pandemic of road injuries effectively, learning from international best practices and adapting them to India’s unique circumstances is imperative. Embracing the UN’s Second Decade of Action for Road Safety (2021-2030) and full implementation of the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 2019, offer a comprehensive approach. Ultimately, addressing road safety not only saves lives but also fortifies the economy and enhances the overall quality of life for the population.
The decision by the Tamil Nadu Governor to withhold approval for Bills related to universities in the state is a clear instance of constitutional tyranny. It represents a significant misuse of the authority bestowed by the Constitution to either grant or deny assent to Bills passed by the legislature.
- Constitutional Bodies
- Role of Governor
Governors rejecting Bills without cause undermines parliamentary democracy. Discuss in the context of recent disapproval of bills by the governor of Tamil Nadu. (15 marks, 250 words).
- The Bills in question primarily aim to transfer the power of appointing Vice-Chancellors of universities from the Governor to the State government.
- There is no valid reason for the Governor to disapprove of these Bills, except for a vested interest in retaining the powers vested in the capacity of the Chancellor.
- The rejection of these Bills seems to be a contentious reaction following the Supreme Court’s justified comments on Governors delaying the assent to pending Bills.
- In response, the DMK government promptly convened a special session of the Assembly and reapproved the same Bills.
- This raises the question of whether the government believed the Governor was obligated to grant assent if the Bills were reconsidered and passed again by the House.
What Happens when a Bill is Passed Second Time?
- Granting assent is a routine duty of the titular head of the state, and the exceptional power to withhold it should only be exercised sparingly and in cases where fundamental constitutional principles are at risk.
- Legally, these Bills have failed to become law, and there is no constitutional remedy for a House aggrieved by the rejection of its Bills.
- The proviso to Article 200, which makes the Governor’s assent mandatory for Bills passed a second time, does not apply to Bills for which assent has been “withheld,” essentially meaning “rejected.”
- If the government was aware of this situation and still chose to reintroduce the Bills, it could be interpreted as a political statement signalling its commitment to pursuing legislative measures.
- However, the fresh passage of the Bills allows the Governor to treat them as entirely new, providing him with the freedom to withhold assent once again.
- In a broader sense, the Governor’s actions bring attention to an undemocratic and anti-federal aspect of the Constitution, granting unchecked power to reject legislation passed by elected representatives.
Ongoing legal proceedings on the Governor’s powers underscore the fact that Governors are not elected officials. The Court should scrutinize whether providing this office with a veto over legislation violates parliamentary democracy, a fundamental aspect of the Constitution. A definitive judicial ruling is essential to curb the potential for partisan misuse of this power.