The Indian Motor Vehicle Act at a Glance

The Motor Vehicle Act is welfare legislation enacted to provide relief to the aggrieved parties by motor accidents in India. The Motor Vehicle Act serves on the principle of the law of torts.

The essence of tort law is that every injury must have a remedy. The Motor Vehicle Act is welfare legislation that aims to compensate the aggrieved parties.

Parliament enacted the Motor Vehicle Act in 1988 as the motor vehicle act 1988. The Motor Vehicle act regulates all aspects regarding motor vehicles on the road and owners.;

The act mainly deals with the registration of new vehicles, licenses, traffic regulations and violations, penalties for not obeying rules, licenses, liabilities and insurances.

The Motor Vehicle Act

The Motor Vehicle(MV) Act enacted by Parliament in 1988 regulates all aspects of motor vehicles in India.;

The MV Act came into force on July 1, 1989, after many amendments. After consultations with various states, the Government of India passed the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill to bring changes to the Motor Vehicle Act of 1988.

The Motor Vehicle Act, 1914

The first enactment in India related to motor vehicles was the motor vehicles act of 1914. The motor vehicle act of 1914 was central legislation applicable in British India.;

Some of the princely states modified the act according to their will for usage. It gave the responsibilities to local governments regarding registering and licensing new vehicles and implementing regulations.;

The Motor Vehicles act of 1939 replaced The Motor Vehicle Act of 1914.

The Motor Vehicle Act, 1988

The Motor Vehicle Act of 1939 has been amended for several years. The road transport technology, freight movements, road networks and patterns of passengers changes accordingly.;

There was outrage from the public side regarding the inconveniences caused for them due to the olden law. A comprehensive Motor Vehicle Act was necessary to make it relevant to modern-day requirements.;

There were also recommendations from different commissions, government officials to update the existing act of 1939.

The Government of India constituted a review bench to discuss the provisions of the new Motor Vehicle Act in march 1990.;

The review bench included the suggestions given by the honourable supreme court in the case of M.K. Kunhimohammed v/s P.A. Ahmed Kutty (1987) regarding the limit of compensation in motor accidents regarding death, and permanent disablement occurred during motor accidents.;

It also included the amount of compensation for hit and run motor accidents despite having no proof of fault for the person involved and disparities in the insurer’s liability regarding any type or class of vehicles.

The Act’s objective is to proffer adequate compensation regarding motor vehicle accidents occurring in a public place causing death or persistent disablement.;

It also provides for a Tribunal that deals in all cases of motor vehicle accidents. It is known as MV Tribunal.

The Motor Vehicle Act 2019

The new Motor Vehicle (Amendment) bill of 2019 was presented in Parliament in 2019 to replace the Motor Vehicle Act of 1988. It also provides for new traffic rules for road safety, and the Act also provides new rules regarding granting of driving licenses, fitness and permits.

Features of The Motor Vehicle Act of 2019

  • The bill made an increase in compensation for hit and run cases. In case of death, it has increased from twenty-five thousand to two lakh.
  • The new bill allows the central government to recall vehicles harmful to the environment.
  • The central Government Board will set up the National Road Safety Board to advise both Central and State governments regarding road management.
  • The new bill has also increased fines for offences like drunk and drive and driving without a license.
  • Juvenile offences are included in the new Act.

New Motor Vehicle Act 2020: Key features of new Indian traffic rules and fines 2020

  • Imprisonment of three years for parents whose children below age 18 are found driving.
  • A proposed increase in compensation for family members of people met with an accident.
  • Advancement of E-governance
  • A sharp increase in fines for violation of traffic rules

Recent cases regarding the New Motor Vehicle Act 2020

  • An auto driver had to pay a fine of 32,000 for jumping a red line in the Sikandarpur region of Gurgaon.
  • A resident of East Delhi had to pay a fine of 23,000 for not wearing a helmet.

These are some of the cases registered under the new traffic rules. The new rules are stringent, severely affecting people who break these rules. Let us hope that our country will witness a disciplined road from now on.

Process of Registration of Vehicle

According to the Motor Vehicle Act, it is necessary to register a motor vehicle. No person shall drive his/her vehicle in a public space unless the vehicle gets registered under the Motor Vehicle Act. Section 39 of the Act provides for the necessity for the registration of motor vehicles.

Section 39: Necessity for registration.

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 gets registered per this Chapter and the certificate of registration of the vehicle has not been suspended or cancelled. The vehicle carries a registration mark displayed in the prescribed manner:

(Provided that nothing in this section shall apply to a motor vehicle in possession of a dealer subject to such conditions as may be prescribed by the Central Government)

Section 39 prohibits a person from driving a vehicle in a public space without registering it under the provisions of the Act. It allows state governments to make conditions regarding the clauses that do not apply to vehicles occupied by dealers.;

Orissa High Court delivered a judgment in the Orissa Co-operative Insurance Society Ltd. V. Bhagaban Sahu case stating that an ostensible owner gets considered the vehicle’s owner even if the real ownership is vested another person.


The Indian Motor Vehicle Act was introduced for making rules and regulations related to offences committed by motor vehicles, and these rules and regulations were made more stringent with the introduction of the MV (amendment) act of 2019. The penalties were increased for better implementation of the act.

The amendment act of 2019 proved to be efficient with good results and significantly reduced road accidents throughout the country.

FAQs Regarding Indian Motor Vehicle Act

What are the RTO rules for vehicle registration?

Section 40 read with section 23 of the Act states that registration is to be done by a registering authority in the jurisdiction where the owner resides or the place of business.

The rules state that documents such as Form 20, identity proof, No Objection Certificate (NOC) get submitted to the RTO.

It is also compulsory to produce the vehicles in the office at the time of registration or renewal of the certificate.

Under which section of MV Act 2019 the provision for punishment gets provided for failure to allow free passage to emergency vehicles?

Section 194E of the act provides punishment for failure to allow free passage to emergency vehicles,s imprisonment up to six months or a fine of up to ten thousand or both.

What is section 177 of the motor vehicle act?

Section 177 of the MV Act provides the general provision for punishment of offences for which no penalty gets provided in the act.

Which section of the Motor Vehicle Act of 2019 constitutes the Motor Vehicle Accident Fund?

Section 164B.