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State govts can issue special registration numbers for vehicles with a fee, rules SC

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New Delhi: The Supreme Court has held that state governments are empowered to decide fees for granting distinctive marks or the registration numbers to motor vehicles registered in their territory.

A bench of Justices L. Nageswara Rao and S. Ravindra Bhat has set aside the Madhya Pradesh High Court judgment which had quashed Rule 55A of the Motor Vehicles Rules, 1994 framed by the state government allowing the authorities to charge a specific amount for fancy registration numbers for the vehicles as per the desires of the owners.

Allowing the appeal of the state government, the bench has dealt with the provisions of the Motor Vehicle Act and concluded that the High Court’s verdict deserved to be set aside.

BS IV vehicles,

This court holds that the assignment of ‘distinctive marks’ i.e. registration numbers to motor vehicles (which includes the power to reserve and allocate them, for a specific fee) is a distinct service for which states or their authorities (such as the registering authorities, in this case) are entitled to charge a prescribed fee. Rule 55A of the MP Rules is not therefore, in excess of the powers conferred upon the state, by the Act or the Central Rules.

In its verdict the Apex Court said that the High Court proceeded on the assumption that the state was not competent to make the legislation.

“This Court is of the opinion that the High Court, in its impugned judgment, lost sight of the true import of Section 211 (of MV Act). The existence of specific provisions empowering the State (such as Sections 41(13), 47(7), 49(4) and 50(5)), means that the power of the State to claim or charge amounts is specifically recognized by express provisions. Further, there are certain services and functions for which the State is empowered to levy fees,” said the order.

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The dispute on the rule was brought by Rakesh Sethi who could not get the registration number of his choice for his motorcycle and this led to setting aside the provision.

Later, the state government appealed to the apex court against the order of the High Court.

Read the judgment here;

25654_2008_35_1501_23604_Judgement_26-Aug-2020

-India Legal Bureau

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