Amidst widespread protests by truckers against the upcoming criminal code imposing higher penalties for hit-and-run accidents, fuel pumps in several states are witnessing long queues due to panic buying.
Protests have erupted in states like Bihar, Punjab, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, and Chhattisgarh, fueled by the stringent penalties outlined in the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, set to replace the colonial-era Indian Penal Code.
The new law mandates up to ten years in jail and a fine of Rs 7 lakh for hit-and-run cases, prompting concerns among truckers, cab drivers, and other commercial vehicle operators about their ability to pay such hefty fines in case of an accident.
As per reports by NDTV, the demonstrations have already impacted the fuel supply chain, with tanker drivers joining the strike, resulting in fuel shortages in several cities.
The protests are also affecting other sectors, such as tourism, as cab operators participate in the strikes.
Meanwhile, the situation has prompted a sense of urgency among consumers, leading to long queues at fuel pumps in anticipation of potential disruptions in fuel supply.
The protests have seen road blockades, burning of tires, and clashes with law enforcement in various states, illustrating the intensity of the agitation.
Key Aspects of the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita
The new law, which has received the president's assent after parliamentary approval, introduces two clauses under Section 104 to address hit-and-run accidents and deaths due to rash driving.
The first clause outlines stringent punishments, including imprisonment for up to seven years and a fine for causing death by rash or negligent acts.
The second clause imposes even harsher penalties, extending the prison term to ten years for individuals who escape the scene of the incident or fail to report it promptly.
Truckers are seeking amendments to the law, particularly regarding the penal provisions against drivers.
They advocate for a more balanced approach, suggesting a reduction in the proposed 10-year prison term for errant drivers to 1-2 years.
Nayan Dwivedi is Staff Writer at Swarajya.
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