The Supreme Court has held that a vehicle cannot be so altered that the particulars contained in the certificate of registration are at variance with those "originally specified by the manufacturer".
The Bench comprising Justice Arun Mishra and Justice Vineet Saran, in Regional Transport Officer vs. K. Jayachandra, set aside a Kerala High Court judgment which had held that structural alteration is permissible as per the provisions of the Kerala Rules.
Referring in detail, the provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, Central and State Rules, the bench observed that 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: "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."
Setting aside the High court judgment, the bench said: "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of registration can also be changed except to the extent of the entries made in the same as per the specifications originally made by the manufacturer.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."