Original specifications made by the manufacturer of the vehicle can’t be altered: SC

Supreme Court: Deciding the question involving the permissible alteration in a Motor Vehicle in view of the provisions contained in 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, the bench of Arun Mishra and Vineet Saran, JJ held:

“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.”

The Court said that the Rules are subservient to the provisions contained in section 52 of the MV Act and what is prohibited therein. It was clarified that

“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 Court noticed that Section 52 of the MV Act has undergone change by way of Amendment Act 27/2000 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 environment. It said:

“The amended section 52(1) has specified the extent to which vehicle cannot be altered. A reading of the provisions makes it clear that no vehicle can be altered in a manner where particulars in the certificate of registration are at variance with those “originally specified by the manufacturer”.”

The Court further explained:

“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.”

[Regional Transport Officer v. K. Jayachandra, CIVIL APPEAL NOS.  219­222 OF 2019), decided on 09.01.2019]

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