Nationwide Protests Erupt as Drivers Rally Against Stringent Hit-and-Run Laws
Written by Sanjay Maurya
- India erupts in protests against increased hit-and-run penalties, with drivers demanding a repeal or reduction of punitive measures.
- Demonstrations cause traffic disruptions, leaving passengers stranded, as drivers across sectors unite in opposition to the new legislation.
- Controversial legislative changes in the Winter Session trigger widespread dissent among drivers, fearing the impact on their livelihoods.
In a massive show of dissent, drivers from all corners of India have taken to the streets to protest the recently amended hit-and-run laws introduced under the Bharatiya Nyaya (Second) Sanhita, 2023. The contentious legislation, which replaced the British-era Indian Penal Code (IPC), has raised the stakes for individuals involved in hit-and-run incidents, now subjecting them to up to 10 years of imprisonment, a stark contrast to the previous 2-year penalty.
The protesting drivers argue that accidents are often unforeseeable and seldom intentional. They claim that fear of mob violence compels them to flee the accident scene, leading to a subsequent reluctance to report the incident. According to the demonstrators, the heightened penalties under the new law only serve to instill fear and anxiety among drivers, jeopardizing their livelihoods.
The drivers emphasized the multifaceted nature of accidents, citing factors beyond their control, such as poor visibility during fog. They expressed concern that drivers could face imprisonment even in situations where their actions were not directly responsible for the accidents, leading to what they perceive as unjust punishments.
As the protests gained momentum, traffic disruptions were reported in various areas, exacerbating the already chaotic transport system. Passengers were left stranded at bus stations across several cities, with truckers, private bus drivers, and even government bus drivers participating in the strike. Social media reports also suggested the involvement of cab drivers in certain states.
The local administrations in several states are closely monitoring the situation, anticipating potential escalations. Authorities have urged protestors to maintain peace and engage in dialogue to address their concerns. The drivers, however, remain steadfast in their demand for a repeal of the law or a reduction in the severity of the punishments.
The upheaval comes in the aftermath of the Winter Session of Parliament, during which the Union Government passed sweeping legislative changes, including the Bharatiya Nyaya (Second) Sanhita, 2023, the Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha (Second) Sanhita, 2023, and the Bharatiya Sakshya (Second) Bill, 2023. These reforms marked a comprehensive overhaul of the criminal justice system, supplanting key legal frameworks such as the IPC, CrPC, and Evidence Act.