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Kerala High Court Urges State Transport Commissioner To Ensure Motor Vehicles Strictly Follow Safety Standards

Hannah M Varghese
17 May 2022 7:09 AM GMT
Kerala High Court Urges State Transport Commissioner To Ensure Motor Vehicles Strictly Follow Safety Standards

The Kerala High Court has directed the Transport Commissioner to take necessary steps to ensure strict compliance with its earlier directions issued in 2019, through the concerned officers of the Motor Vehicles Department against motor vehicles which violate the safety standards in the State.

Justice Anil K. Narendran laid particular emphasis on the safety standards relating to lighting, light-signalling devices, vehicles fitted with unauthorised name board, emblem, flag and also multi-coloured red, blue and white lights intended for vehicles on designated emergency and disaster management duties; vehicles used on public places without displaying registration marks appropriately; vehicles pasted with cooling films on safety glass or fitted with sliding cloth curtains.

"Large number of motor vehicles are being used on public place without displaying registration marks appropriately. Motor vehicles which violates the safety standards relating to lighting, lightsignalling devices, which are capable of dazzling the drivers of the oncoming vehicles and likely to endanger the safety of other road users are being permitted to be used on pubic place."

The petitioner, who is the Principal of a Higher Secondary School moved the Court seeking a writ of mandamus commanding the Additional Registering Authority to endorse the class of vehicle covered by the certificate of registration, as Educational Institution Bus (Contract Carriage), without insisting on compliance with Rule 125C of the Central Motor Vehicles Rules.

The Court noted that in a previous judgment delivered in 2019 in the case Principal, Sabari PTB Smaraka H.S.S. v. Additional Registering Authority & Ors, it had held that the petitioner's vehicle, which does not meet the safety standards cannot be permitted to be used in any public place, since the use of such vehicles in any public place is likely to endanger the safety of other road users.

On noticing that, despite the direction issued by this Court earlier, motor vehicles which are likely to endanger the safety of other road users were being permitted to be used in the public place in the State, this Court issued various directions to the Transport Commissioner, who was directed to file action taken report.

Thereafter, a Circular issued by the State Police Chief was placed on record, whereby all officers in the Police Department are directed to remove contraband articles (window curtains, bull bars, sun films, etc.), if any, from all the vehicles of the Police Department.

Another circular had also been issued regarding the use of window curtains/black films in official vehicles of various Government Departments, whereby all Government Departments are instructed to ensure that none of the vehicles under their administrative control use curtains/dark films or any material which affects the visual light transmission percentage, through the windscreens/windows.

The Court also added that as per Section 6(2)(c) of State Emblem of India (Regulation of Use) Rules, 2007, the Central Government shall have the power to restrict the display of emblems on vehicles of constitutional authorities, foreign dignitaries, Ministers of the Central Government and the State Governments. As per Rule 10(1), no person other than those authorised under these rules, shall use the emblem in any manner.

As per Rule 10(2), no Commission or Committee, Public Sector Undertaking, Bank, Municipal Council, Panchayat Raj Institution, Parishad, non-government organisation, or University, other than those authorised under these rules, shall use the emblem in any manner.

The Single Judge had taken note of these provisions and held that, the use of emblem and display of flag shall be permitted only on vehicles carrying the constitutional authorities and other dignitaries specified in Part I and Part II of Schedule II.

Yet, many vehicles are still seen plying in the State, carrying the name board "Government of India", "Government of Kerala", "Kerala State", "Government Vehicle", etc. to mislead the Police, the Enforcement Officers of the Motor Vehicles Department, etc. by giving an impression that the said vehicles are owned by a Government Department.

Therefore, it was held that any person, who drives or causes or allows to be driven in any public place a motor vehicle violating the safety standards without maintaining lighting and light-signalling devices and also retro-reflectors as per the individual specifications, or after replacing the prototype approved lights, light- signalling devices and reflectors with after-market multi-coloured LED/laser/neon lights, flashlights, etc., shall be proceeded against under Section 190(2) with the imprisonment and fine specified therein.

Such person was also to be disqualified for holding licence for a period of 3 months and for any subsequent offence with imprisonment and fine as specified in that sub-section.

In view of Section 206(4) of the Motor Vehicles Act, a police officer or other person authorised on this behalf by the State was also directed to seize the driving licence held by the driver of a motor vehicle who has committed an offence under Section 190 and forward it to the licensing authority for disqualification or revocation proceedings under Section 19.

Advocate P. Deepak appeared for the petitioner in the matter.

Case Title: Principal v. Addl. Registering Authority & Ors.

Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Ker) 225

Click Here To Read/Download The Order

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