The Centre is in the process of linking driving licences with Aadhaar numbers to weed out fake licences. A software for this covering all States was being readied, the Supreme Court was informed on Wednesday. A Bench of Justices Madan B. Lokur and Deepak Gupta was informed about it by a court-appointed committee on road safety headed by former SC judge Justice K.S. Radhakrishnan.
This assumes significance as a five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra is currently hearing a clutch of petitions challenging the constitutional validity of the Aadhaar scheme and the enabling 2016 law.
The committee, in its report filed in the top court, said it had held a meeting on November 28 last year with the joint secretary of Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) to discuss several issues, including procurement of fake licences and how to eliminate it.
“On the issue of fake licences, joint secretary, MoRTH informed that NIC [national informatics centre] is now preparing ‘Sarthi-4’ under which all the licences would be linked to Aadhaar,” the report said.
“This software will cover all the states on real time basis and it will not be possible for anyone to get duplicate or fake licence anywhere in the country,” it said.
The advocate representing the committee, told the bench that the panel was scheduled to have a meeting with the MoRTH and other authorities concerned on February 22-23 to discuss compliance of directions given by the apex court earlier.
Additional Solicitor General Pinky Anand, appearing for the ministry, told the Bench that fatalities in road accidents in India have gone down by around three percent in 2017 as compared to 2016.
The Bench said it was “heartening to know” that number of fatalities and injuries in road accidents have come down.
In its report, the committee said it had asked States and Union Territories (UTs) to forward road accident data for entire 2017.
“The committee has since received data from all the States/UTs, except Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Mizoram and Daman and Diu which indicates that in the States/UTs which have submitted data, there has been a reduction of 4,558 fatalities [i.e. 3.0%] and 24,023 injuries [i.e. 5.0%] in 2017 as compared to 2016,” the report said.
The committee told the court that through its November 24 last year letter, it had asked all the States to set up a road safety fund which would be non-lapsable, and to have a steady flow of funds by diversion of “significant” portion of fines collected from traffic violations.
It said some States have already set up road safety fund and the committee was pursuing the issue with remaining States in order to ensure full compliance of the apex court’s order which had said that the fund should be established by March 31, 2018.
The report said at the November 28 last year meeting, it was discussed that since driving licences were now in the form of a smart card, its punching in cases of default was likely to damage the data stored in it.
“Joint Secretary MoRTH pointed out that presently NIC is in the process of developing central computerised data base and all the States would be covered under the same.
“This data base is likely to be effective from October 1, 2018,” it said, adding, that all the offences committed by the driver would be recorded in this data base and there would be no necessity for punching of driving licences.
The committee further said that 20-25% fatalities on roads occur due to non-existence of pedestrian facilities, like footpaths, over-head passes, and under-passes and so it has asked the states to provide pedestrian facilities in accordance with the Indian Road Congress (IRC) guidelines.
The court, while posting the matter for hearing on April 23, said that the committee should ensure compliance of its directions given earlier.
The apex court had in November last year issued a slew of directions on road safety and asked all States and UTs to set up a trauma centre in each district of the country and make safety norms part of school curriculum.
It had also directed that road safety education and counselling be made a part of school curriculum by the State boards by April 1, 2018, and at least one trauma care centre be set up in every district with an ambulance.
The court had issued its directions on a PIL raising the issue of road safety in the country.