Section 52 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, Rule 126 of the Central Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989 and the effect of Rules 96, 103 and 261 of the Kerala Motor Vehicle Rules, 1989.- permissible alteration in a Motor Vehicle –
The Division Bench of the High Court in the impugned judgment has opined that alteration is not totally prohibited. More so, in view of Rules 96 and 103 of the Kerala Rules, the Registering Authority is competent to consider roadworthiness and safety of the vehicle and it cannot be rendered a mechanical exercise. It is not only to verify as to whether the measurement conforms to the prototype test etc. The Rules provide for the dimensions of the vehicle. Rule 93 is not an enabling provision to make prototype certification. Rule 47(1)(g) of the Central Rules contemplates on road-worthiness certificate in Form 22 from the manufacturers and in Form 22A from the bodybuilders for applying for registration of the motor vehicles. The body can be built on a chassis in compliance with the provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act and the Rules framed thereunder. The manufacturer or the authorities specified under Rule 126 do not provide for any prescription as to the dimensions or nature of the body that is to be built on the chassis. The writ petitions have been allowed and orders passed by the Registering Authorities have been quashed.-
Apex court held that What is permitted has been specifically provided for and what has not been specifically stated would obviously be deemed to have been excluded from these Rules. Let us take a few examples. Rule 104 requires that every motor vehicle, other than threewheelers and motorcycles shall be fitted with two red reflectors, one each on both sides at their
rear. Every motorcycle shall be fitted with at least one red reflector at the rear. Rule 104A provides that two white reflex in the front of the vehicle on each side and visible to oncoming
vehicles from the front at night.
Rule 106 deals with deflections of lights and requires that no lamp showing a light to the front shall be used on any motor vehicle including construction equipment vehicle unless such lamp is so constructed, fitted and maintained that the beam of light emitted therefrom is permanently deflected downwards to such an extent that it is not capable of dazzling any person whose eye position is at a distance of 8 meters from the front of lamp etc.
Rules 119 and 120 specify the kind, size, and manner in which the horn and silencer are to be fixed in a vehicle.
These provisions demonstrate the extent of minuteness in the Rules and the efforts of the framers to ensure, not only the appropriate manner of construction and maintenance of the vehicle but also the safety of other users of the road.
It is the duty of all citizens to comply with the law. The Rules are mandatory and nobody has
the authority in law to mould these rules for the purposes of convenience or luxury and certainly not for crime.
As per Section 32(1) and 32(2) of the Old Act, corresponding to Section 52(1) and 52(2) of the new Act, before making any alteration, the owner was required to give notice to the registering authority and obtain permission. The registering authority was required to communicate its approval or disapproval within seven days and if no such communication was served within the period of seven days, approval of such authority to the proposed alteration was deemed to have been given.
Apex court held that
The vehicle has to comply with the provisions of the Rules contained in Chapter V of the Central Rules as provided in Rule 92(1). Rule 92(1) has to be read as subservient to the provisions contained in section 52 of the Act and what is prohibited therein to allow the same is not the intendment of the rules contained in the Chapter. Various provisions in Chapter V are additional safeguards to what is prohibited in section 52(1) that is to say, what has been specified originally by the manufacturers and once that has been entered in the particulars in the certificate of registration, cannot be varied. No vehicle can be altered so as to change original specification made by manufacturer. Such particulars cannot be altered which have been specified by the manufacturer for the purpose of entry in the certificate of registration. It is provided in Rule 126 of the Central Rules, prototype of every type of vehicle is subject to test. The provisions of Rule 126 intend for fitness of vehicle to be plied on the road by the agencies which are specified therein. Approval and certification of motor vehicles for compliance to these rules shall be in accordance with the AIS: 017-2000. Rule 93 deals with overall dimensions of the motor vehicles such as width, length, height, overhang etc. No doubt about it that the vehicle has to be in conformity with the rules also but Rules cannot be so interpreted so as to permit the alteration as prohibited under section 52(1) of the Act. The alteration under the Rules is permissible except as prohibited by section 52. The specification of the rules would hold good with respect to the matters as not specifically covered under section 52(1) and not specified therein by manufacturer. The emphasis of section 52(1) is not to vary the “original specifications by the manufacturer”. Remaining particulars in a certificate of registration can be modified and changed and can be noted in the certificate of registration as provided in section 52(2), (3) and (5) and the Rules. Under section 52(5), in case a person is holding a vehicle on a hire purchase agreement, he shall not make any alteration except with the written consent of the original owner.
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.