The Motor Vehicles Act. 2019 was recently passed by the Indian Parliament but some states like West Bengal have refused to enact the law in their states whereas states like Gujarat have drastically reduced the fines mentioned in the bills.

So I would like to know how much power does an Indian State have when choosing whether or not to implement a Union law? Is what they're doing constitutional? Also if such changes as concerning the Motor Vehicles Act are states' affair then why did the Union pass such a law?

PS: Please provide other examples to support your explanation. Thanks in advance.


States are independent entities under the country and are administered by democratically elected candidates. They have sufficient privileges to enact/counteract any law passed by the central government. However. The individual states must adhere to all laws passed in favour of national security, media, and some other critical areas. Taxation had been segregated in the form of CGST and SGST. The SGST part is up to the state to enforce or abolish.

To understand why some states altered fines structure, we must ask ourselves the following.

  • The mandatory minimum wage for engineers in hardly 9000/- ( < 150$ ). If you enforce such heavy penalties, for a mistake accidentally committed on substandard Indian roads, he has to shell out a significant proportion of his income in fines. To survive, he must borrow at exorbitant rates.

  • Are Indian roads should be called as roads? If an individual makes an emergency manoeuvre to avoid a pothole, he will be charged with a rash driving ticket. What would happen if the individual is from the above paragraph? Is he Guilty?

  • Are Indian traffic cops eligible to decide what's right and what's wrong on roads? Are cops honest? they are renowned for their corruption levels in the world. To top it off, they just handover rash riding tickets to everyone, just to meet their daily tickets target amount. To what extent this is correct?

  • Does India has sufficient parking to accommodate the automobiles it sells? Every month, India adds around 2 million 2 wheelers. Which Indian city has sufficient parking? What measures were ever taken to address the parking needs? The answer is None. The count of automobiles keeps growing and the infrastructure is stagnant. The system is using cops to generate more money in the form of fines.

Some sensible state governments intervened and have altered the fines to reflect reality. Deciding fines based on a DUI Engineer in Bangalore/Mumbai and enforcing these fine levels throughout the country is perceived by many as a magnanimously stupid decision. Hence some states didn't enact the actual levels of fines proposed by the central government.

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    While the context information is very interesting, only the last paragraph seems to address the actual question. Can you please summarize the first paragraph to reduce the offtopic part of your answer? – Alexei Nov 17 '19 at 21:49
  • The answer depends on the way the question is structured. – user29025 Nov 17 '19 at 22:34

To be precise, as per the Indian constitution "Mechanically Propelled Vehicles" is a category listed under "Concurrent List". Which means, both Centre and State Legislatures has the power to draft laws on those subjects / items. Obviously, Centre has precedence over the State law unless it (State law) is under the consideration of the President.

Motor vehicle being a mechanically propelled vehicle comes under "concurrent list". So, technically Centre's law should prevail over the State. In case of Bengal and Gujarat, AFAIK, the two states "didn't refuse" to enact - they only reduced the amount of fines, but all other mandatory clauses are being followed. As per the newspaper reports, the two states are examining the legal clauses of the Act.

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