The Supreme Court of India recently passed a judgment saying that no motor vehicle could be altered now in the manner that could change the original specification made by the manufacturer that was used for the purpose of registration. Shocking? Wondering why this happened? Referring to an amended provision of the Motor Vehicles Act, the apex court said that its clear intent was that a vehicle cannot be altered as the particulars contained in the certificate of registration will vary with those ‘originally specified by the manufacturer’.
As soon as the vehicle is registered with RTO and running smoothly on the road, the owner thinks about modifying the vehicle. It starts from a basic tyre change to complete makeover of the car/motorcycle. Now, the judgment has been passed and left the owners wondering what can be changed and what can’t be? Though there are a lot of debates going on over the extent of the modification so it is vital to learn the facts.
What does the SC judgment say?
“No vehicle can be altered so as to change original specification made by the manufacturer. Such particulars cannot be altered, which have been specified by the manufacturer for the purpose of entry in the certificate of registration”, says Justices Arun Mishra and Vineet Saran. According to the provision of the Act, ‘alteration’ means changing the structure of a vehicle.
Earlier Kerela High Court said that structural alteration was permissible as per the provisions of the Kerala Motor Vehicle Rules, 1989. The state is well-known for many modified vehicles on the road. The Supreme Court judges overturned the Kerala High Court judgment saying…
“In our considered opinion the Division Bench in the impugned judgment of the High Court of Kerala has failed to give effect to the provisions contained in section 52(1) and has emphasized only on the Rules. As such, the decision rendered by the Division Bench cannot be said to be laying down the law correctly. The Rules are subservient to the provisions of the Act and particulars in certificate of registration can also be changed except to the extent of the entries made in the same as per the specifications originally made by the manufacturer. Circular No.7/2006 is also to be read in that spirit. Authorities to act accordingly.”
Wondering what is section 52 on The Motor Vehicles Act, 1988?
To simply explain it, modifications such as wider tyres, bigger alloy wheels and louder horns (which deviate from the manufacturer’s specifications) are not legal. The judgment has a special take on the tyres saying, “amended with the purpose to prohibit alteration of vehicles in any manner, including change of tyres of higher capacity, keeping in view road safety and protection of the environment”.
To help you understand it all better, here’s a list of things that one can modify in their vehicle.
You can change the colour of the vehicle
Minor fitments – door protectors, decals, rain guard can be added.
Tyres can be changed in affordable cars as manufacturers usually offer different specification tyres for the base and top variant.
The engine can be changed, but it requires prior permission from the RTO.
Summing It Up
If the rule is strictly implemented, the question is whether it will be applicable to new vehicles or existing vehicles too? If existing vehicles are included, then what would happen to those that are already modified with wider tyres and other added features?