‘License to kill?’: Sindh’s new law gives exemption to emergency van drivers from conviction
KARACHI: The Sindh Assembly has approved a law, allowing exemption to drivers of emergency vehicles from conviction. The opposition vented its strong reservations on the law, sparking debate in the provincial legislature.
Law Minister Zia Lanjar tabled the Provincial Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2018 in the House to amend the Provincial Motor Vehicles Ordinance, 1965 aimed at ‘bringing the rules in conformity with modern-day needs.’
The new insertion in the law reads: “No driver of an emergency vehicle shall be convicted of an offence punishable under sub-section (1) if he was responding to an emergency and was not exceeding the limit of 80km/hour.”
But the Opposition said the new law was tantamount to grant ‘license to kill’ to the drivers.
Opposition Leader Khwaja Izharul Hasan said the bill should be reconsidered as the [aforementioned] clause absolving individuals from conviction while driving emergency vehicles would make things complicated.
“You should legislate in line with international standards but that should not give licence to kill to such individuals,” he pointed out.
He also objected to the provisions binding private ambulance operators to get registered with the health ministry and addition of certain “law enforcement vehicles” among the emergency means of transport.
Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf lawmaker Khurram Sher Zaman also proposed an amendment for scrapping the provision promising no conviction for the drivers of emergency vehicles. However it was rejected.
He said the section could have been used for killing people in the garb of performing emergency duties. Most of those drivers, he added, had not even got a proper driving licence.
The opposition members said special tracks and lanes for emergency vehicles were normally there in the developed world. “Such laws absolving ambulance drivers from conviction were perfectly good there because they have got all infrastructure and facilities required for running emergency vehicles. We should wait for such an amendment until we get everything else in conformity with the developed countries,” the opposition leader said.