Centre defers hit-and-run law after transporters’ strike

Ajay Bhalla

New Delhi: The Central Government has agreed to defer the implementation of the new criminal law that imposes harsh penalties for hit-and-run cases, following a nationwide strike by transporters and drivers. The strike, which began on January 1, 2024, had disrupted the supply of essential commodities, including petrol and diesel, across the country.

The new law, which is part of the Indian Judicial Code that aims to replace the Indian Penal Code, provides for a punishment of up to 10 years of imprisonment and a fine for drivers who cause a fatal road accident due to negligent driving and flee the scene without informing the police or any administrative authority. The transporters and drivers had opposed this provision, saying that it was unfair and draconian, and demanded its withdrawal.

On Monday evening, a delegation of transporters and drivers met with the Home Secretary, Ajay Bhalla, and other senior officials of the Central Government, and reached a consensus to suspend the enforcement of the new law until further consultations. Bhalla assured the transporters and drivers that the government would review the law and address their concerns. He also appealed to them to call off the strike and resume their work.

The strike had severely affected the availability of petrol and diesel in several states, especially in Chandigarh, where the administration had imposed rationing of fuel to cope with the crisis. The rationing, which allowed only two litres of fuel for two-wheelers and five litres for four-wheelers, had also hampered the functioning of emergency services, such as ambulances, in the city. The administration said that it would lift the rationing as soon as the strike was over.

truck drivers stricke

The new criminal law was passed by the Parliament during the winter session in December 2023, along with two other laws, the Indian Evidence Code and the Indian Procedure Code, which are also part of the Indian Judicial Code. The President had given his assent to the laws on December 31, 2023. The government had claimed that the new laws would modernize and simplify the criminal justice system in the country.