Published On : Thu, Jul 9th, 2015

Fancy number plates: HC for stringent punishment, hefty fines

Expressing serious concern over rampant use of fancy number plates, the Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court, on Wednesday, directed the central government to introduce stringent punishment and hefty penalty against violators in its proposed ‘Road Transport and Safety Bill, 2014’.

A division bench comprising Justice Bhushan Gavai and Justice Indira Jain asked assistant solicitor Rohit Deo to request the Centre to come up with a prescribed format of number plates on vehicles, before granting eight weeks to reply on both counts. The judges observed that just Rs100 fine on owners using fancy number plates was highly insufficient and apprehension of hefty cost could deter them from violating norms.

The court’s response came while hearing a case of final year law student Satpal Singh Renu who moved to judiciary on use of fancy number plates that is in complete violation of the Motor Vehicles (MV) Act, 1988, and Rules 1989.

The petitioner’s counsel Raspal Singh Renu contended that such plates are illegible, and criminals often use such plates to avoid their vehicle registration numbers being noted down. Even during winter assembly session of the Maharashtra legislature, hundreds of such vehicles are seen every year belonging to MLAs and MLCs, but no one dares to take action.

During the last hearing, chief secretary Swadheen Kshatriya said that the proposed ‘Road Transport and Safety Bill, 2014’, would take care of stringent punishment and steep penalties on violators of traffic rules after its enactment. The bill proposed by Union Ministry for Road Transport and Highways is expected to regulate movement of passengers and freight in country.

In an affidavit before the court, Kshatriya said that draft is currently in public domain for suggestions and objections and would be enacted soon. He, however, expressed inability to hike fines against traffic violators, stating that state had no powers, as amendment to MV Act could be made only by the centre. The court then asked government to explore option of imposing deterrent punishment on violators, including those who use fancy number plates. In same hearing, the Nagpur traffic police had informed that they penalized around 59,381 vehicle owners for violating provisions of MV Act in last four years and recovered Rs63.36 lakh by way of fines from them.

Earlier, Renu argued that fancy plates were mainly used by habitual offenders just to deceive people as the figures and numerals are inked on them in a way that citizens with ordinary prudence could not notice or memorize. A large number of chain snatchers also use them so that citizens shouldn’t recognize their vehicle numbers.

Rajeev Ranjan Kushwaha (