HC Quashes RTO Kashmir’s Circular

J&K High Court | File Photo

Leaves It Open For Authorities To Check Validity Of Outside Vehicles

Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir High Court on Thursday quashed RTO Kashmir’s March 27 circular, mandating the owners who have purchased their vehicles bearing outside registration number to apply for a new registration within 15 days.

A division bench of Justices Ali Mohammad Magrey and Vinod Chatterji Koul also asked authorities to comply with Section 47 of the Act and Rule 54 of Central Motor Vehicles for assignment of new registration mark of the vehicles.

However, notwithstanding these directions, the Division Bench left it open for the authorities to “screen, scrutinize, verify” validity and genuineness of documents of any vehicle entering J&K having outside registration.

The Section 47 of the Motor Vehicle Act 1988 deals with assignment of the new registration mark on removal of the vehicle to another State or UT in India. It provides that when a motor vehicle registered on one State has been kept in another State, for a period exceeding twelve months, the owner of the vehicle shall, within such period apply to the registering authority, within whose jurisdiction the vehicle then is, for the assignment of a new registration mark and shall present the certificate of registration to that registering authority.

Rule 54 of Central Motor Vehicles says that an application for the assignment of a new registration mark shall be made in Form 27 and shall be accompanied by a no objection certificate in Form 28 along with the appropriate fee as specified in rule 81, within a period of thirty days from the date of expiry of the period specified in the section. However it is subjected to the condition that a motor vehicle is intended to be kept in a State for a period exceeding twelve months and the owner of such vehicle makes a declaration to that effect.

“We have already noticed the scheme of law, which provides for assignment of new registration mark but deem it proper to reiterate that if the vehicle once registered in any State in India, it shall not be required to be registered elsewhere in India, but when the Motor Vehicle registered in one State, has been kept in another State for a period of exceeding 12 months, the owner shall apply to the Registering Authority within whose jurisdiction the vehicle is for the assignment of new registration mark, this is as provided under Sections 46 and 47 of the Motor Vehicles Ac,” the court said.

“Therefore, a life time tax that is levied at the point of registration of a vehicle in terms of Section 3 of the Motor Vehicles Act, cannot be levied on a vehicle registered, merely on a presumption that a vehicle registered outside JK, has remained in the Union Territory for a period exceeding 12 months.”

The court had on April 22 reserved its judgment on two petitions filed by individuals— Zahoor Ahmad Bhat and Irshad Hussain Munshi—through their lawyers— senior advocate Faisal Qadri with Altaf Mehraj and advocates Fasil Javid and Mukhtar Ahmad respectively.

In both the petitions, challenge was made to circular (bearing No. RTO/K/Estt/85-95) dated 27 March 2021, issued by RTO Kashmir, asking the owners, who had purchased their vehicles from outside Jammu and Kashmir bearing outside registration mark, to apply for a new registration mark within 15 days from 27 March 2021, failing which action as warranted shall be initiated against them.

Both of them had submitted that they had purchased vehicles at New Delhi and registered under Transport Authority Government of NCT Delhi and in terms of provisions of Motor Vehicle Act and Rules, no assignment of new registration mark was required under these sections.

“By a writ of certiorari, the impugned circular to the extent of asking the petitioners to have their vehicles registered for assignment of new registration mark with the (RTO Kashmir), without their declaration in tune with the mandate of Rule 54 of Central Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989 and without providing any mechanism, is quashed,” the court said, and also directed authorities to have the compliance of Section 47 of the Act, read with Rule 54 of Central Motor Vehicles undertaken for assignment of new registration mark of the vehicles.

“Notwithstanding above directions, we leave it open for the respondents (authorities) to screen, scrutinize, verify, validity/genuineness of documents of any vehicle entering in J&K from outside, having outside registration,” the court added.

Centre Mulling New Re-Registration Norms

In a related development the union road transport ministry has proposed new draft rules that will make it much easier for defence personnel, government employees and others shifting from one state to another to re-register their vehicles.

In a statement, the ministry said it is proposing a new system of vehicle registration, wherein allocation would be marked as “IN” series and this will be on pilot test mode.

“This vehicle registration facility under ‘IN series’ will be available to defence personnel, employees of Central Government, State Governments, Central/ State PSUs and private sector companies/organisations, which have their offices in five or more States/Union Territories.

“The motor vehicle tax will be levied for two years or in multiple of two,” it said.

According to the statement, this scheme will facilitate free movement of personal vehicles across any state in the country upon relocation to a new state.

Station relocation occurs with both, government and private sector employees and such movements create a sense of unease in the minds of employees with regard to the transfer of registration from the parent state to another state.

The step comes in the context of several citizen-centric steps and an IT-based solution for vehicle registration taken by the government.

The draft rules have been placed on the website of the ministry for stakeholders’ comments. (With inputs from GNS, PTI)

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