The Kerala High Court has ruled that talking on mobile phone is not an offense as there is no such law in the Motor Vehicle Act that can penalise motorists who talk on phone while driving. The court also added that a fine can be charged in case the driver is caught endangering public safety. Recently, the Rajasthan High Court had summoned police to cancel driving license of people who are repeatedly caught talking on the phone while driving a vehicle.
Under the current provisions, the police can book people who use mobile phones while driving under the Section 184 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 or under Section 279 of the Indian Penal Code, both of which have provisions for ‘driving dangerously’. On the contrary, there is no special provision under the law for motorists that are caught using cell phones.
The Motor Vehicles ACT 1988, which is currently in use is outdated and needs to be amended on priority. According to the ruling bench, “There is no provision in the Police Act that bans people from talking over mobile phone while driving. Hence a person doing this can’t be assumed as one cause danger to the public. The court can’t rule that the person who speaks on a mobile phone while driving causes danger to the public. The assembly should pass an amendment to include these provisions in the Police Act to make it an offence. If the police had registered such cases in the state those concerned can approach the respective magistrate courts to quash their cases”
Unfortunately, the High court order of one state has validation pan India except for Jammu and Kashmir, provided a state high court opposes to the order. According to a spokesperson of the State Motor Vehicles Department, the government will take action once it examines the verdict in detail.