A resident of Jammu and Kashmir reportedly located himself on the erroneous side of the legislation for modifying his Mahindra Thar and was sentenced to 6 months in prison. The modifications he is explained to have designed to his car or truck include a difficult leading, more substantial wheel and tyres as effectively as a substantial car or truck siren. It is as a result significant to study to what extent a consumer can make modifications to his motor vehicle. This is vital since generating modifications might invite lawful proceedings.
Individuals are pressured to make alterations since companies unfold features across unique variants which may perhaps be out of their reach though initially acquiring the car. For case in point, a base variant of a automobile may perhaps have scaled-down tyres than the larger variant or may not have a touchscreen technique which has the element of Apple CarPlay and Android Car which are arguably essential in 2022. As a result, a shopper who are not able to pay for the maximum variant may well obtain the reduced variant and afterwards, as cash gets out there goes and provides these attributes to his automobile. Most likely this is why automakers like BMW have make a decision to swap to a subscription design which requires them inputting the needed components essential and earning it membership dependent, so you can invest in the auto but activate other functions later.
Extras not exceeding two p.c of the vehicle’s bodyweight specified in the certificate of registration are permissible in India. On the other hand, alterations which improve the basic structure of the car so as to alter its simple capabilities have been made illegal in India by advantage of Area 52 of the Motor Vehicles Act of 1988 which was afterwards amended in 2000 and again recently in 2019.
This posting seeks to take a look at the scope and ambit of Segment 52 of the Motor Motor vehicles Act and the permissible limitations of automobile alteration in India.
An evaluation of the components of Section 52 of the Motor Motor vehicles Act, 1988 informs us that:
- No owner of a motor motor vehicle can alter the car at variance with the particulars contained in the certification of registration specified by the manufacturer.
- The engine or any aspect of it can be modified or changed to ensure that it is operate by a unique gas or battery or liquified petroleum gas or any other resource of electricity by fitting a conversion kit. The Central Governing administration can prescribe technical specs, conditions, ailments of acceptance, retro fitment and other associated issues for these conversion kits and the modifications should comply with these situations.
- The Central Governing administration can prescribe specs, problems for acceptance, retrofitment and other associated issues for the alteration of motor cars and in these kinds of situation, the guarantee granted by the company will not be thought of void for the purposes of this kind of alteration or retrofitment.
- A particular person can receive subsequent acceptance of the registering authority for alterations and transform his auto into an adapted motor vehicle which have to comply with the problems approved by the central government.
- Alterations built devoid of prior acceptance of the registering authority will have to be introduced to its observe within fourteen times of producing the alteration. The certification of registration alongside with price has to be offered.
- The Central Authorities can exempt alterations of automobiles in a way in any other case than the specified method for any unique reason.
- If an alteration has been designed with no the prior acceptance of the RTO, then the operator of the motor vehicle must report the alteration to the RTO inside of 14 times of making the alteration together with the certificate of registration and the approved cost.
An alteration is spelled out in the Section as that means a transform in the framework of the car or truck resulting in a change in its standard aspect.
The punishment for alterations is uncovered in Part 182-A of the Act. In accordance to Part 182-A(1) if a producer, importer or dealer will make or gives to alterations which violate chapter VII of the Act or rules and laws the punishment will be a utmost of one particular 12 months in jail or with a high-quality of one lakh rupees per the car or both equally.
Further, Portion 182-A(4) offers that entrepreneurs altering their motor vehicles, which includes by way of retrofitting motor car sections in an impermissible way faces up to six months in jail or with a fantastic of up to Rs 5,000 for every these alteration or with both. For that reason, it is not only the operator of a car who faces legal responsibility but even a maker or seller.
A two-judge bench of the Supreme Courtroom of India dealt with the interpretation of Section 52 of the Act of 1988 and examined the extent of permissible alterations in the scenario of Regional Transportation Officer v K Jayachandra (2019). The type of alterations which have been remaining examined associated alterations to the chassis of the car, therefore essentially shifting the structure of the motor vehicle.
In its examination of the provisions of the Act, the courtroom took take note of the objects and explanations of the modification built to the provision by Parliament in 2000, in accordance to which improvements produced had been necessary to ensure the protection of street end users by prohibiting alterations of any variety which include modify of tyres of larger capacity.
The crux of the judgment is that when the RTO does not have to have to be burdened for every slight alteration this sort of as fitting extras, if there is any modify in the framework which will be deemed as altering its “basic structure” and is at variance with the particulars of registration then these alterations are unlawful. The improve in tyre dimensions has sought to be manufactured illegal in check out of safety worries by the legislature and this has been recognised and affirmed by the Supreme Court.
Even so, after this judgment, in the exact same year, the Kerala high court docket had celebration to deal with an personal who manufactured an application for converting a Drive Traveller ambulance into a Hearse Ambulance in Jeffin Abraham v Joint Regional Transport Officer (2019). Whilst the software was rejected, quite a few structural alterations had been created to the van came to light. Though dealing with this, the court docket experienced event to interpret Section 52 of the Motor Motor vehicles Act. The courtroom also noticed that the Ministry of Street and Highway’s has issued a clarificatory conversation in view of the judgment of the Supreme Court.
In essence what the ministry reported is that improvements can’t be built to the certificate of registration besides to the extent of the entries designed in the very same as for every the specifications of the maker. The most critical clarification for our functions is:
“A motor car or truck, modified by incorporating optional components available by its company or if not modified so that it proceeds to comply with the manufacturer’s specs, may not need even further certification. In the explained communication, the Ministry has prescribed that the modifications that can be carried out by the vehicle operator and would not entail further certifications are:
(a) Substitute of areas or factors by equivalent pieces or parts.
(b) Substitute sections or parts with elements or components with equal practical functionality.
(c) Optional parts or elements as prescribed by the vehicle’s manufacturer.”
This clarification results in a scenario wherein a customer who purchases a car and will increase its tyre dimensions by buying from dedicated tyre shop will violate the regulation, whilst a customer who goes to the dealer, who is fundamentally an extension of the producer may perhaps not. In the same way, a consumer who buys LED tail lights from a third get together instead of the vendor will also be liable less than the regulation. This distinction which has been produced is perverse considering the fact that the item of the 2000 amendment was ostensibly a basic safety concern. Several companies or sellers offer tyre upsizing both as accessories or updates. If Segment 182-A (1) bars a producer or vendor from producing alterations which violate the Act and its rules and the intendment of the 2000 laws was from tyre upsizing, then we have to check with ourselves regardless of whether these can in simple fact be delivered lawfully as accessories or upgrades.
There is also ambiguity as to what “continues to comply with the manufacturer’s specifications” indicates. Many customers make alterations these kinds of as modifying the headlights to far better top quality, some update the tail lights these are third occasion add-ons. Further more it can be argued that headlight and tail lights are ‘basic features’ of the cars even however there is no structural adjust in the car. Force horns being mounted are reportedly main to highly-priced fines being issued by the targeted traffic law enforcement, but what if the client buys the horn which is a real accessory supplied by the company?
Given that the increase in tyre dimensions identified unfavourable mention not only in the objects and good reasons for the 2000 modification but a judgment of the Supreme Court and Kerala high court docket, the argument that as prolonged as a consumer chooses a increased tyre dimensions which is specified by the manufacturer, it is permissible would not maintain substantially h2o. Further more applying the phrase “may” generates even further confusion as it is not vital that compliance with the ailments of the interaction would demand no registration.
In watch of these judgments, it will be practical to take a look at what form of modifications are currently being at present supplied by third social gathering stores in the marketplace:
- Clutch overhaul
- Eu/ TCU Tuning
- Brake upgrades.
- Customised exhaust programs
- Exterior customisation
- Automation and hydraulics.
These are just some of the publicly offered modifications of which all of which slide foul of Section 52 of the Act as they would change the automobile from what was designed by the manufacturer and specified in the certification of registration. These modifications arguably alter the essential characteristics of the automobile. Even further, in scenario a consumer needs to make these modifications he will mandatorily have to notify and request consent of the jurisdictional RTO.
In check out of the earlier mentioned enable us analyze some illustrative predicaments which may possibly occur when a customer wishes to make some modifications to his auto:
1. A shopper purchases a car or truck and does not like the seat addresses. There are no side and curtain airbags: The alter of seat covers will not final result in any improve to the framework or simple characteristics of the automobile and therefore is satisfactory.
2. A consumer buys a reduced variant of a automobile which will come with 15-inch tyres. The better variant of the motor vehicle arrives with 17-inch tyres. The consumer can strategy the authorised supplier for upsizing the tyres, however upsizing the tyres exterior the purview of the company is a gray region in check out of the judgments of the courts and the clarification of the Ministry. There will be no issue in upgrading to a better makes tyre which are the exact same sizing as the tyres the motor vehicle arrived with. This is mainly because the tyre size and specifications has to be delivered by the maker when furnishing facts to the registering authority.
3. The buyer goes to a efficiency enhancement business and boost the horsepower of the engine and alterations the tune of the engine or modifies the brakes or suspension of the auto. This is unlawful and impermissible due to the fact it would be at variance with the particulars furnished by the producer when registering the car which consists of the power output of the motor.
4. A client variations the stock headlights and tail lights by approaching a third party. He replaces the types originally delivered by the company. For occasion, the purchaser installs projector headlights which are not presented by the manufacturer on any variant of the motor vehicle. This is yet again a gray region, due to the fact if there is no transform in wiring and the item is plug and play and only increases the vehicle and does not violate any provisions of the motor vehicle Act, this need to tumble in the definition of an accent and should be permissible. However, as observed in the case of the Thar proprietor in Jammu and Kashmir, LED tail lights ended up not spared.
5. A buyer purchases a decreased end variant of a vehicle and later installs a touchscreen program which has wireless Apple Carplay and Android Automobile. This will be an accessory and will not have to have registration.
6. A client needs to improve the color of the paint in his auto. He will have to seek acceptance from the RTO for this as it will be at variance with the certification of registration.
7. A consumer would like to make alterations to the human body of the automobile by setting up body kits, and shifting the overall look of the bumpers. This is impermissible and if these types of alterations are sought to be made, acceptance of the RTO ought to be sought.
The true issue is with alterations which make the motor vehicle unsafe and put other people at chance such as enormous metal bumper guards which have been designed unlawful. There is also a legitimate curiosity of the maker and vendor to assure top quality management and the security of its cars and trucks consequently, third occasion equipment can complicate matters and modifications or alterations designed to the auto outside the house the dealership generally void the guarantee which will come with the vehicles. For instance, altering the wiring in a auto can induce a limited circuit and trigger a fire. Modifications this sort of as individuals produced to allow for differently abled folks for driving have in quite a few instances needed them to find permission for altering their motor vehicle, these are decided on a scenario-to-circumstance basis.
The impact of the clarificatory communication of the Ministry of Street and Transport is that as very long as you suit legitimate accessories or fitments presented by the producer, of which an authorised supplier is an extension, there need to be no trouble and you may perhaps not need to have to get your alteration registered. This will put a client who goes to a third social gathering or unbiased store for fitments or specified add-ons at a downside given that no matter whether or not his fitments and components conform to what is prescribed by the producer will be up for interpretation of the authorities. Even more right after the amendment in 2019 if the Central Governing administration approves specific alterations/ fitments then the exact same will not void the makers guarantee.
It would thus stand to rationale that if the specifications of the maker are not tampered or interfered with, then it need to not entail a violation of Part 52 of the Act and accompanying regulations. The cumulative outcome is that 3rd occasion components or fitments are witnessed with a lens of suspicion as opposed to what is offered by the company or its authorised supplier which are commonly additional pricey and out of attain of several people.
In conclusion, modifications which do not pose protection hazards should be permissible 3rd-celebration accent or fitments should not be banned in totality but examined on a situation-circumstance foundation to see regardless of whether the alteration produced is a protection hazard. The alterations the Supreme Courtroom of India and the Kerala significant courtroom ended up concerned with were being far more to do with structural modifications. Consequently, the term “basic features” has to be read with structural modifications and not independently, and as a result add-ons which have been expressly exempted by the law can be modified without the need of trying to get registration. The preference offered to manufacturers and their sellers by, in a sense, exempting their extras or modifications from the rigours of the law as opposed to third celebration accent shops requires reconsideration and modifications to a vehicle really should not matter as very long as they do not represent a safety hazard.
It would be helpful for buyers if the Union authorities gives clarity of which add-ons are exempted and permissible by way of a checklist. This would also advise customers of which add-ons will not void the companies warranty. The endeavour have to be to conclude any ambiguity encompassing modifications or alterations in vehicles taking into consideration it entails time in jail which can increase up to 6 months for the operator of the automobile.
Raghav Tankha is a attorney practising in Delhi. Views are personalized.