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The central government this week decided to increase the jail term for death caused by drunken driving from two to seven years. Presently, drunken drivers booked under Sector 304A (causing death due to negligence) are awarded a two-year prison sentence or fine or both. However, following the Supreme Court’s comments on the quantum of punishment deeming it “absolutely inadequate”, the government has decided to increase the jail term to seven years, reported The Times of India. In addition to heightening the punishment for drunken drivers causing deaths, the government also issued a notification making lifetime third-party insurance mandatory for all vehicles at the time of registration. Since records suggest that about half the vehicles, mostly two-wheelers, do not have third-party insurance, the victims of accidents caused by uninsured vehicles do not generally get compensated. Meanwhile, the transport ministry helmed by Minister Nitin Gadkari has also referred some supplementary recommendations to the ministry of home affairs commanded by Minister Rajnath Singh. These recommendations assert that drunken drivers who cause death must be tried under “culpable homicide” instead of “negligent driving” which would allow the law to award them as much as 10-years in jail. The notification for increasing the jail term to seven years was one of a total of 15 issues that were addressed by the road transport ministry. The parliamentary select committee was told by the transport ministry that rules will be made to make violators spend time in surgical OPDs of road accident victims to make them understand the pain they have caused to them. Rules will also be framed to control the speed of vehicles plying on roads. The traffic ministry will also keep a check on those involved in racing and be performing stunts on roads. Earlier this year, Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari had issued a notification that proposed a reward for citizens who report vehicles that are parked illegally.
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