The nationwide agitation led by truckers has come to a halt following the government’s assurance that it will engage with stakeholders before implementing a contentious hit-and-run law. The All-India Motor Transport Congress decided to call off the protest after prolonged discussions with government officials.
Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla, addressing the issue, stated, “We had a discussion with representatives of the All India Motor Transport Congress, and the government wants to clarify that the new rule has not been implemented yet. Before implementing Bharatiya Nyaya Samhita 106/2, we will engage in discussions with All India Motor Transport Congress representatives, and only then will a decision be made.”
Bal Malkit, the chairman of the AIMTC’s core committee, reaffirmed this stance, saying, “The new laws have not been implemented. It will be implemented only after consultation with the All India Transport Congress.”
The focal point of the protest was Section 106(2) of Bharatiya Nyaya Samhita (BNS), set to replace the colonial-era Indian Penal Code. This section proposed stringent penalties for hit-and-run cases, prompting truckers to threaten a nationwide strike, raising concerns about fuel and essential item shortages.
The agitation spanned various states, including Jammu and Kashmir, Bihar, Punjab, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, and Chhattisgarh.
Under the proposed law, hit-and-run offenses could result in a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a fine of ₹7 lakh, a significant increase from the current penalty of up to a two-year jail term and a lighter fine. The 10-year punishment applies when the offender causes death through rash driving and flees without reporting the incident to the police.
Truckers, cab drivers, and others operating commercial vehicles expressed concerns about their ability to pay such hefty fines in case of accidents. Experts have cautioned about potential misuse of the law, citing challenges in informing authorities due to public anger, and uncertainties regarding acceptable evidence in case of disputes.