Friday, March 31, 2023

NHRC advisory for protecting rights of truck drivers; seeks CCTV installation at all checkpoints

truck drivers

NEW DELHI, June 29: Flagging truckers being “exploited” by various government agencies, the National Human Rights Commission has issued an advisory seeking the Central and state governments to minimise physical interference between truck drivers and law enforcement agencies. It has also advised for designating areas for inspection of trucks and other commercial vehicles and to install CCTV cameras at toll booths, inter-state checkpoints and other such inspection areas.
In the first-of-its-kind advisory, the NHRC has written to Union home, road transport, health and finance secretaries, and also to all chief secretaries of state chief secretaries to take necessary action and submit action taken reports within three months.
As per the advisory, the enforcement agencies have been asked to stop collection of fines in cash and make all systems online so that there is minimal physical interaction between truck drivers and the personnel from enforcement agencies.
The commission has advised that all such officers deployed on road must wear body cameras when on duty so that everything gets recorded. It has also suggested the creation of a facility to record interaction of drivers with enforcement agencies.
The NHRC has asked states to do away with the current practice of setting targets for collecting fines. It has also advised the home ministry to amend CrPC to dispense with the requirement of furnishing surety and security by a local resident for release of vehicle and driver.
The commission has advised the agencies to formulate all SOPs to govern seizure of trucks and arrest of drivers, co-drivers and helpers in case of being involved in road accidents, overloading and violations of other laws. It said the SOP must have an exhaustive list of cases where arrest of drivers or seizure of trucks may be made.
On the issue of adequate rest for the drivers, the NHRC has advised the government to create rest areas with necessary facilities at every 40 kms along NHs and on important state highways.
It has also advised the road transport ministry to amend the Motor Vehicle Act to provide mandatory purchase of personal accident cover of Rs 15 lakh for each driver, co-driver and helpers of commercial truck. The commission has sought making policy to ensure payment of insurance compensation within 15 days to the kins of driver, co-driver and helpers in case of death.
The human rights watchdog has suggested the linking of driving licence with bank accounts, ESI and EPF database to monitor timely payment of minimum wages, ESI, EPF contribution of commercial truck drivers and take appropriate remedial measures in case of any default or delay or shortfall in payment.
The panel has advised the agencies to ensure monthly paid holidays to drivers, co-drivers and helpers, and also to make it mandatory to pay minimum wage linked to the bank accounts.
Welcoming the advisory, Abhishek A Gupta, general secretary of AITWA said, “”We are delighted that many of our industry issues are taken up by NHRC thereby reassuring that these need to be addressed by respective government bodies to help our Highway Heroes. It is now important for the on ground implementation for which we shall pursue them.” (TNN)