Can illiterates be given driving licenses?
In May 2019, all illiterates have been banned from driving any sort of vehicle in Rajasthan. A single bench of the Rajasthan High Court has instructed the state government to withdraw the driving licenses of those who cannot read. The court has also instructed the transport authorities to issue proper instructions and guidelines and take the necessary action in cases where a driving license has been issued to someone who can’t read and write. This has sparked a debate of whether the move is a step in the right direction or not. Can illiterates be given driving licenses?
Lakhs of motor vehicle driver are in relief after the stay order, which was delivered by a division bench of Rajasthan High Court, on the order of a single judge bench. The single judge bench ordered for the cancellation of all light motor vehicle driving license issued to illiterate persons. This order has widespread consequences because the drivers who are not well educated and the income source of them is only driving such as the drivers of auto-rickshaw and cabs.
The court observed, in the order passed by a single judge bench, that an illiterate person is ‘virtually a menace for pedestrians on the road’ and ordered the state government to withdraw driving licence from all those people who are illiterate because they are not able to read or understand the signboards, warning signals and other signals.
As of now, no educational qualification is required to obtain a private vehicle driving license. For commercial vehicles, as per the Motor Vehicles Act 1988, an 8th pass certificate is necessary to obtain a license. Besides, the person driving a vehicle carrying dangerous or hazardous goods should be able to read or write at least one Indian language as prescribed in the VIII Schedule of the Constitution, or English.
CURRENT ISSUE(CAN AN ILLITERATE PERSON ISSUE A DRIVING LICENSE? ):
The main issue in this article is can an illiterate person issue a driving license? Driver, Deepak Singh, filed a petition seeking to grant him driving licence for a heavy motor vehicle on the basis that he had been issued licence past thirty years ago to drive light motor vehicles. This
petition was heard by a single judge bench consisting of Justice Sanjeev Prakash Sharma who observed that: “The license cannot be allowed to be issued for driving any kind of vehicle to an illiterate person as he is virtually a menace for the pedestrians as he would not be in a position to understand road signs and notices of caution written on boards for human safety on the highways as well as on the roads in the cities. The licence of Light Motor Vehicles issued to the petitioner and similar persons also must be therefore withdrawn”.
The single judge bench also directed that the transport authority lay down guidelines and take action in cases of an issued licence to an illiterate persons
It may be noted that the Motor Vehicles Act or Central Motor Vehicles rule has not prescribed any guidelines for the issuing of driving licence in respect of educational qualification. Only for issuing of transport licence educational requirement guidelines are prescribed which says the minimum qualification must be class VII pass.
Satish khandelwal, the counsel for the petitioner approached the division bench and pleaded that they approached the single judge bench just for issuing of the driving licence of Heavy Motor Vehicle. The driver has its Light motor vehicle category driving licence since the past 13 years and he wants to convert it too heavy motor vehicle category. The single judge bench exceeded its jurisdiction and passed the order for the whole state. On the roads of the Jaipur district only there are 3 lakhs driver who is dependent on the earning of their driving and they are illiterate. The driver must be educated enough to understand the sigh boards for having a driving licence. In the motor vehicles rules, the central working committee of the 16th Lok Sabha session has omitted the conditions of literacy required by a driver for issuing a driving license.
While all of the above concerns may look petty as compared to the loss of livelihood of hundreds but it will definitely help save at least a hundred lives every year. Road safety is treated very lightly in India. But, the statistics are alarming. One person dies every 4 minutes due to a road accident in India. More people die every year due to road accidents than the combined number of deaths in all the 5 wars India has fought. India loses 3% of its GDP due to road accidents. Keeping this in mind, any step taken to improve road safety in India should be highly appreciated.
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