The foremost enactment during the British regime to consolidate carriage laws was the British Carriers Act, 1830. In 1865 certain modifications were effected to the carriers act and the Carriage Act, 1865 was enacted. The Carriage by Road Act, 2007 was enacted on September 29, 2007 with an intention to regulate the common transporter, restrict the obligations and proclaim the standard of commodities conveyed to them to prescribe their obligation for any loss or harm to such commodities resulted due to their neglect or the criminal acts.
The Act defines ‘common carrier’ as an individual employed in the trade of gathering, storing promoting or allocating commodities to be transmitted by goods carriages under the a receipt or transportation of commodities for hire by motorized carriage on road for all persons without prejudice. It further includes company reserving commodities, contractors, mediators, dealers etc engaged in the door-to-door carrying of records or merchandise by using the assistance of a person to transmit such document or articles except the Government.
The Act prohibits a person from the trade of common carrier, who does not obtain the registration certificate after the enforcement of the Act. But where a person already engaged in the activity of common carrier before coming into force of the Act, such person shall file an application for registration within the prescribed time limit or he shall cease to take on that business after the enforcement of the act. It shall be done within one hundred and eighty days from such enforcement unless he files an application for the purpose of registration and has obtained certificate from the registering authority. The person who is already employed or intends to carry on the trade of common carrier shall renew the certificate from the registering authority. The application shall be submitted to the registering authority, having the power to issue such certificate and having jurisdiction over the area where the applicant resides or where his business functions, in the prescribed format.
The registering authority shall verify the application before issuing registration certificate and convince itself that the application accomplishes all the terms and conditions. After conducting necessary verifications, the authority shall issue the registration certificate to conduct the trade of common carrier but subject to certain stipulations. Where the certificate is issued or renewed, such certificate shall have validity for a period of ten years. The person obtaining the certificate shall retain a register in the prescribed format. But if the person holding the certificate fails to act in conformity with the provisions of the Act, the registering authority shall issue a notice directing the holder to rectify such error or he may invalidate the certificate after completing inquiry. But where a complaint is lodged by a consignor against the common carrier, the authority shall invalidate the certificate until the completion of the investigation under the following circumstances:
- The receipt of commodities are not issued;
- The common carrier fails to disclose the details of the commodities on demand from the consignor or consignee;
- The articles or goods are not delivered without convincing reasons;
- Failure to pay charges to the truck owners as agreed.
When the authority revokes the certificate the holder shall give up the certificate to the registering authority and the holder shall complete all the transactions accepted by him before revoking the certificate. An appeal shall be preferred by the aggrieved person from the order of the authority within the prescribed period of sixty days to the State Transport Appellate Tribunal established under the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988.
The common carrier is under a responsibility to provide a goods receipt in the specified manner where the commodities are loaded by the consignor. The receipt shall indicate the weights and quantity of the commodities and shall be considered as prima facie evidence in the matters connected therewith. The Act imposes liability on the common carrier for the damage or loss to any delivery to pay compensation as specified under the Act. The common carrier shall carry harmful or hazardous commodities only after complying with the safety measures prescribed under the enactment. But the common carrier shall not be held liable for the losses arising due to act of God, disturbances or disorders, war, arrest or any other legal process, ban imposed by the Central government etc.
The Carriage by Road Act, 2007 repealed the Carriers Act, 1865. The 2007 Act could not be implemented completely due to failure on the part of the authorities to formulate rules. Hence, the Act remained stagnant for approximately three years and in 2010 draft rules were published. But the rules could not be notified due to various political reasons. In 2011, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways formulated and notified The Carriage by Road Rules, 2011 on February 28, 2011.