Navigating the Controversy over the New Hit and Run Laws in India

Navigating the Controversy over the New Hit and Run Laws in India

Navigating the Controversy over the New Hit and Run Laws in India

 By-Tanishka Jain

PIMR, Department of law, Indore

In India, hit-and-run incidents are becoming more frequent and are growing at a rapid rate. Despite this, India’s Indian Penal Code 1860 provided the legal framework to handle similar situations. The new act, however, amends this clause to extend the maximum sentence from two years to ten years. This leads to significant truck driver demonstrations that spread to several States. Transporters and commercial drivers from states such as Punjab, West Bengal, Maharashtra, and Chhattisgarh have protested against the new laws pertaining to hit-and-run cases.

Due to this incident we can assume that India grapples with a persistent controversy surrounding its hit and run laws, stirring debates on justice, accountability, and the need for legal reforms. This article delves into the complexities of this issue, exploring the challenges faced by victims and the call for a more robust legal framework.

Why in News?

Numerous States are seeing widespread protests by truck drivers in response to the new rule. Truck drivers in Maharashtra staged roadblocks during the protest, and cases of stone-pelting resulted in injuries to police officers and damage to vehicles. Fears of a fuel scarcity have also been raised by it. In a similar upheaval, 12,000 private bus drivers in Chhattisgarh went on strike, stranding commuters in key towns and creating chaos at gas stations. Similar events from Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, and Punjab, where normalcy has completely stopped, have been reported. This put the government in the chaos to reconsider the new act.

Current Legal Landscape in India

Although India has the Provision which dealt with hit and run cases under the Indian Penal Code 1860. Then what is the need of this new law? The current hit and run laws in India have faced scrutiny for being perceived as lenient. Legal provisions often fall short in adequately addressing the severity of the crime, leaving room for disparities in the administration of justice. Understanding the nuances of these laws is crucial in evaluating the controversy they generate.

What is the need for the law?

The new regulation is being implemented against the backdrop of alarming traffic accident statistics in India. With more than 1.68 lakh road crash fatalities in 2022, India held the record for most deaths. (Times of India, 2023) This disturbing figure equates to 462 deaths every day on average. India saw a 12% increase in traffic accidents and a 9.4% decline in fatalities in the same year, despite a 5% decrease in traffic collision deaths worldwide. The nation experiences 19 traffic-related fatalities every hour on average, or approximately one death every 3.5 minutes. Less than 5% of the entire road network consists of national and state highways, where more than half of all traffic deaths occur. (Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, 2022)

What is the principle which underlying the new law?

Every criminal legislation includes some rationale for the punishment. The argument for harsher penalties seems to stem from the law’s expressed goal of discouraging reckless and irresponsible driving that could result in fatalities. On the other hand, if an offender tries to elude justice after causing a fatality through careless or reckless driving, the intention is to punish them. 

In this case, the law imposes a proactive duty on the perpetrator to notify the police or magistrate of the event. In addition, there are laws that make it illegal to neglect to discharge a responsibility of this kind. Legislative purpose to impose moral responsibility on the side of the criminal towards the victim of a traffic accident is evident in the imposition of this legal duty. It is not unusual for situations involving auto accidents to involve the conversion of moral culpability into a legal obligation. 

Let’s take an example, when discussing Section 134 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, it states that the driver of the vehicle must use all reasonable efforts to get the injured individual medical assistance, unless doing so is impractical due to mob wrath or another circumstance beyond his control. In a similar vein, the Delhi High Court’s scheme for automobile accidents claim in Rajesh Tyagi v. Jaibir Singh (2021) (District Court, 2021)addressed the question of whether the perpetrator escaped from the scene as a major consideration.

The hit-and-run law before the new act 

There was no special provision for hit-and-run accidents prior to the 2023 Act. However, Section 304 of the IPC, 1860 governed the proceedings in circumstances like this. According to this section, a person who intentionally causes another person’s death via reckless or irresponsible behaviour faces a maximum sentence of two years in jail, a fine, or both.

 New hit-and-run law

The Bharatiya Nyay Sanhita (BNS), 2023, which replaced the Indian Penal Code, 1860 of the British era, stipulates that a driver faces up to 10 years in jail and a fine of Rs.7 lakhs if they cause a serious road accident through careless driving and then flee the scene without alerting the police or any other official.

Why this law triggered the backlash?

Why are truck drivers protesting against this regulation, and what criticism does this law face? The punishment’s increase is the cause. The prior rule only allowed for two years of punishment and a fine of significantly less, but the new law allows for up to ten years of imprisonment and a fine of seven lakhs. Even if the driver is somewhat to blame for the accident, this places the risk on them.

Truck drivers can also speak up by stating that, particularly in rural regions, they may encounter mob violence while attempting to transport injured people to hospitals.

Victims and Their Struggles

Hit and run incidents not only result in physical harm but also inflict emotional and financial burdens on victims and their families. The lack of stringent legal consequences exacerbates their struggles for justice, leaving many feeling neglected by the system meant to protect them.

Is it necessary to make any adjustments or should it be reversed?

  • Government Response and Future Outlook

The administration has not stated that it plans to revoke the new hit-and-run legislation in spite of the demonstrations and criticism. The urgent problem of hit-and-run accidents, which have posed a continuous danger to road safety, is still the main focus. The government has not responded officially to the All India Motor Transport Congress’s request for the recall of the bill, demonstrating their strong belief in the need for the new laws.

  • Challenges in Enforcement

Enforcing hit and run laws poses significant challenges, from identifying perpetrators to collecting evidence. Swift action is often hindered by bureaucratic delays and resource constraints, further complicating the pursuit of justice for victims.

Here are some factors to take into account when discussing the need for this law.

Public Outcry and Advocacy:

High-profile hit and run cases have sparked public outrage, leading to calls for legal reforms. Advocacy groups, civil society, and concerned citizens have joined forces to demand stricter laws and more effective enforcement mechanisms.

International Comparisons:

A comparative analysis of hit and run laws in other countries reveals stark contrasts. Examining successful models can provide valuable insights for reshaping India’s legal framework, addressing loopholes, and ensuring a more equitable system.

Proposed Reforms:

Various stakeholders, including legal experts and activists, advocate for amendments to existing hit and run laws. Proposals range from increased penalties for offenders to streamlined investigative procedures, aiming to strike a balance between justice and the rights of the accused.

Technology and Accountability:

Embracing technological advancements, such as surveillance cameras and digital forensics, can enhance accountability in hit and run cases. Integrating these tools into law enforcement practices can aid in the prompt identification and apprehension of perpetrators.

Community Engagement and Education:

Creating awareness about road safety and the consequences of hit and run incidents is crucial in preventing such occurrences. Community engagement and educational initiatives can contribute to a culture of responsibility on the roads, reducing the frequency of these tragic incidents.


The severe problem of hit-and-run accidents and their effects is being addressed in a big way by India’s new hit-and-run law. Although the goal is evident—to raise accountability and improve road safety—the fierce resistance from truck drivers highlights how difficult it will be to create a fair legal system. The demonstrations shed light on worries regarding the legislation’s possible unforeseen repercussions, especially with regard to the financial burden it may place on drivers and the disruption of vital services.

The controversy surrounding hit and run laws in India underscores the need for comprehensive reforms. Balancing the rights of victims with due process for the accused requires a nuanced approach. By addressing legal gaps, embracing technology, and fostering a culture of responsibility, India can strive towards a more just and accountable system for handling hit and run cases.


District Court. (2021, May 12). Rajesh Tyagi & Ors. vs Jaibir Singh & Ors. on 12 May, 2021. Retrieved from District Court:

Ministry of Road Transport and Highways. (2022, December 6). Road Accidents in India 2021. Retrieved from

Times of India. (2023, October 13). Record 1.68 lakh road accident deaths in 2022; 1 every 3 minute. Retrieved from Times of India:,or%20one%20every%20three%20minutes.

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