The Supreme Court of India on 9 January 2019 held in case of REGIONAL TRANSPORT OFFICER & ORS. ETC VERSUS K. JAYACHANDRA& ANR. ETC.{With C.A. No. 223 of 2019 [@ SLP [C] No.27499/2013]} that motor vehicle cannot be altered to change the original specification which is been made by the manufacturer that has been used for the purpose of its registration. The apex court referred to an amended provision of the Motor Vehicles Act and observed that its “clear intent” was that a vehicle cannot be so altered that particulars contained in the certificate of registration are at variance with those ‘originally specified by the manufacturer’.

The Bench is comprised of  Justice Arun Mishra and Justice Vineet Saran, in Regional Transport Officer vs. K. Jayachandra and they set aside a Kerala High Court judgment which had held that structural alteration is permissible as per the provisions of the Kerala Motor Vehicle Rules, 1989.

The court said: “The alteration under the Rules is permissible except as prohibited by section 52 of the Motor Vehicles Act. 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 the 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.”

“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,” a bench of Justices Arun Mishra and Justice Vineet Saran said.

According to the provision of the Act, ‘alteration’ means a change in the structure of a vehicle which results in a change in its basic feature.


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