Cabinet okays Road Transport Act keeping provision maximum 5-year punishment

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Dhaka, August 06: The cabinet has approved the ‘Road Transport Act, 2018’ keeping the provision of maximum punishment for five years for reckless driving.The item was included as a ‘supplemental agenda’ at the cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Monday.

The approval comes amid student protests for road safety and demands for capital punishment for drivers in road accident related deaths.

After the meeting, Cabinet Secretary Mohammad Shafiul Alam confirmed the matter to the reporters.

The Road Transport Act has kept the provisions for maximum and minimum punishment. The maximum fine is not more than Tk25 lakh and the minimum fine is not more than Tk5,000.

“In cases of offences related to accidents, the draft law says that, regardless of the law, if any is grievously injured or killed in a motor transport accident, it will be considered under the penal code’s sections 302 or 304,” the cabinet secretary said.

Which section will apply to any given case will be determined by the investigators based on evidence and testimony, he said.

“It will be based on the severity of the situation and the evident. If it is determined that they intentionally committed the act, it will be handled by the relevant section of the penal code. The investigation will determine whether it will be handled under section 302 or section 304.”

“An addendum states that, regardless of the penal code section 304 (b), if an individual causes grievous injury or death in an accident through recklessness or negligence, they will receive a maximum of five years in prison, a fine or both.”

Though the prison sentence limit was set in the law, no limit was placed on the fine, Shafiul Alam said.

“The relevant authorities will be able to determine the amount of the fine based on the situation,” he said.

According to Law Minister Anisul Huq, section 304 (b) of the penal code had initially stated it would carry a maximum sentence of seven years in prison, which was revised down to three years in prison in 1985.

The law minister said that instead of revising section 304 (b) of the penal code, the new Road Transport Act set a five-year maximum on deaths due to road accidents.

The cabinet secretary said that the new maximum sentence of five years was decided after consultation with transport owners, workers, passengers and people from all classes.

Cabinet Division Secretary NM Ziaul Alam and Road Transport Division Secretary Nazrul Islam joined the cabinet secretary during the briefing.

The road transport secretary said, “If it is proven that a person was intentionally killed due to reckless driving, it will fall under section 302, which is punishable by the death penalty.”

Neighbouring countries do not impose death penalty for deaths in road accidents, Nazrul Islam said.

“Section 302 will only apply if it is considered a killing.”