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Old 10th January 2019, 08:44   #1
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Default SC: Vehicle cannot be altered to change original specs

https://www.thequint.com/news/india/...-supreme-court

Just read this link on the Quint yesterday. I haven't read the judgment first hand but this is what the Quint article states:

Quote:
The Supreme Court on Wednesday, 9 January, said no motor vehicle could be altered to change the original specification made by the manufacturer that has been used for the purpose of its registration.

The apex court referred to an amended provision of the Motor Vehicles Act and observed that its “clear intent” was that a vehicle cannot be so altered that particulars contained in the certificate of registration are at variance with those ‘originally specified by the manufacturer’.

"No vehicle can be altered so as to change original specification made by manufacturer. Such particulars cannot be altered which have been specified by the manufacturer for the purpose of entry in the certificate of registration," a bench of Justices Arun Mishra and Vineet Saran said in its verdict.
Most importantly, what I am unclear on is whether they are saying even an RTO cannot approve a change or their purport is that such change cannot be made without RTO approval. Will be worth reading the judgment to understand that important distinction.

The latter is well understood - when I changed the color of my Civic, I had gotten the change approved by the RTO and updated in my RC book. If it is the former, it would be in line with the interpretation of the sun-film issue, where any and all sun film other than from the factory was deemed illegal, regarless of the visibility ratio.

The judgment seems to capture even changes like a tyre upsize which seems a bit of an overkill to me. But then again, aspects like tyre specs are not really mentioned in the CoR, so perhaps that is not prevented (again - will need to review the judgment along with the amended provisions to understand this better).

What it would of course cover clearly (and I suppose rightly so) are aspects like power bump up mods since these figures form part of the CoR - again these need not be visually apparent on the car.

Strictly as an enthusiast, I would like the legal framework to allow some modification of cars within acceptable parameters subject to suitable approvals from the RTO.

Of course this is all academic at the end of the day - most people will generally do whatever they want and deal with the cops as required.
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Old 10th January 2019, 09:01   #2
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Default Re: SC: Vehicle cannot be altered to change original specs

We should have a system of getting the modifications certified by an authorised entity. In Australia they have a limit of allowed variation from standard (for eg tyre size, suspension height etc) and anything beyond has to be approved. This is a good system unlike the blanket ban which is being enforced here, but then this is far easier just like the sunfilm ban.
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Old 10th January 2019, 09:16   #3
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Default Re: SC: Vehicle cannot be altered to change original specs

Quote:
Originally Posted by Axe77 View Post
Most importantly, what I am unclear on is whether they are saying even an RTO cannot approve a change or their purport is that such change cannot be made without RTO approval. Will be worth reading the judgment to understand that important distinction.
Consider my case. I have a commercially registered WagonR that I had to fit a speed governor, to make it road legal. Now this judgment comes just days after I got the fitment done.

I think that the above judgement says that original vehicle can't be modified. Now there was no mention of a governor when I bought the car in 2016. So does this mean RTO enforcement of a speed governor is illegal?

Newer commercial cars come factory fitted with speed governors like the Dzires, Innovas sold specifically as cabs.
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Old 10th January 2019, 09:51   #4
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Default Re: SC: Vehicle cannot be altered to change original specs

I suspect Auto manufacturers and Insurance companies may use this judgement as a reason to deny accident and warranty claims citing modifications!
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Old 10th January 2019, 10:57   #5
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Default Re: SC: Vehicle cannot be altered to change original specs

I’m looking ahead to see how this will be enforced on the road. I have not done any drastic modifications to any of my vehicles, but I can’t have that choice taken away from me. It has to fit into the ambit of road legal, and the RTO should be the best authority on that. Camper vans, is what’s on my mind when I think this.
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Old 10th January 2019, 11:03   #6
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Default Re: SC: Vehicle cannot be altered to change original specs

These things used to be mentioned in the registration handbook of yesteryears. Nothing new and not sure why courts have to repeat the law. So I dont see anything changing from our enforcement agencies.
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Old 10th January 2019, 11:27   #7
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Default Re: SC: Vehicle cannot be altered to change original specs

Read the Honorable SC Judgement dated 09.01.2019 in detail and came to the following conclusion:

1. Section 52 of MV Act, 1988 has to be complied in letter and spirit which specifically deals with permissible and non permissible alterations in a MV.

Alteration in a Motor Vehicle

(i) No owner of a motor vehicle shall so alter the vehicle that the particulars contained in the certificate of registration are no longer accurate, unless.*
(a) he has given notice to the registering authority within whose jurisdiction he has the residence or the place of business where the vehicle is normally kept, as the case may be of the alteration he proposes to make; and
(b) he has obtained the approval of that registering authority to make such alteration.

it is very clear from the judgement that even tyre upgrade is illegal.

Read the full judgement here https://www.sci.gov.in/supremecourt/...9-Jan-2019.pdf
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Old 10th January 2019, 12:16   #8
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Default Re: SC: Vehicle cannot be altered to change original specs

This judgement has put a spanner in the works for anyone who wants to mod his car. If the ECU is remapped, its quite difficult for a rto to spot check and find out. This means even if someone were to just upsize the tyres, its illegal. It’s a wait and see situation on how it will be implemented, at the end.
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Old 10th January 2019, 12:54   #9
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Default Re: SC: Vehicle cannot be altered to change original specs

TL;DR:
Overall, the judgement purportedly places an emphasis on public safety, and says that inconveniencing a few people for the safety of the Public is okay. Thus, no change from manufacturers' specifications is allowed.
However,
LONG VERSION:

After reading through the judgement and scanning for loopholes, 3 things become evident:

1. While the Sale Certificate has "Horsepower or Cubic Capacity" as a field and only one needs to be entered, the Certificate of Registration has separate fields for Horsepower and Cubic Capacity, which means that this data is not allowed to be changed without prior approval.

(Sorry; Horsepower Mods not allowed, yet.)

2. Any alteration needs to be informed to the RTO in writing and they ought to respond of their approval/disapproval within 7 days, failing which approval is deemed to have been granted.

(Exact procedure not mentioned, but this sounds promising.)

3. "The provisions of section 52(2), (3), (4) and (5) have to be read harmoniously. The Explanation to section 52 says that “alteration” means a change in the structure of a vehicle which results in a change in its basic feature. The alterations which do not change the basic features are outside the purview of alteration."

This, to me, is the most important bit, which brings into question as to what constitutes a basic feature.

Is it that which has been entered in to the CoR and/or Sale Certificate?
If so, then tyre changes, accessories, and other minor mods are allowed, and they do not need to be informed to the RTO.
If there is an exhaustive list anywhere, then I'm sure we'll find ways to bypass that.

Then again, this is just reason for the cops to rejoice (at least in Bangalore) because their revenue(from bribes) is going to go up.

However, we, The Citizens of the Sovereign Socialist Secular Democratic Republic of India, solemnly swear that we will find a way to continue to persevere in these hard times and Stick It To The Man.

Cheers!
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Old 10th January 2019, 13:19   #10
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Default Re: SC: Vehicle cannot be altered to change original specs

I really do not understand the fact that in the recent Flood Situations in Kerala, many people got to understand the value of modified 4X4 vehicles fitted with Winches, Extra Lights raised suspension setup. Those modifications apart from motoring delight do save lives in times of disasters like these.

Now after this judgement will all those get nullified and now the officials would be saying that all these vehicles who saved people are ILLEGAL!

Hope to get it clarified from the members and understand their views on this.
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Old 10th January 2019, 13:27   #11
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Default Re: SC: Vehicle cannot be altered to change original specs

Perhaps the SC should also ensure that manufacturers can't sell under-tyred, under-specced cars either!! A good chunk of upgrades/mods are done to add some utility or feature to the car that is missing and that should've been there in the first place.

SC should ban bike tyres on cars (175 profile on Honda City, anyone?), candles for lights, non-film covered window glass for people to bake in the sun etc.

If manufacturers sell global spec cars, need for utility mods will go down anyway.

We can't touch our cars that we pay through our noses for, yet manufacturers can milk the customers dry by removing features, selling India-spec variants, and at usurious prices.

Last edited by Parth46 : 10th January 2019 at 13:32.
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Old 10th January 2019, 13:39   #12
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Default Re: SC: Vehicle cannot be altered to change original specs

Apologies in advance for the long post, however, as a lawyer, let me quickly clarify some points:

Motor Vehicle Act requirements:
1. Any modification from the original stock structure needs to be approved by the RTO - this includes additional fog lights, bull bars, light bars, color and/or engine modifications, exhaust modifications, changes in number of seats and/or doors and/or windows.
2. Such modification has to be approved by RTO and registered and modified in the RC.

Now comes the tricky parts - minor modifications which DO NOT ALTER THE ORIGINAL STRUCTURE can be left away. This means that +1 or +2 tyres, bull bars, front fog light(s) with covers and luggage racks for holiday use. These are not looked upon by either the RTO or the Hon'ble Supreme Court as these are common changes and in some cases are extremely important.

Changes which definitely need RTO approval are engine modifications, color modifications and/or seating modifications. Do note that our RC's clearly mention the type of vehicle and seating capacity. For example, my TUV is registered as a Station Wagon, with the seating capacity listed as 5 + 2.

Changes which at no point of time be approved are STRUCTURAL CHANGES - meaning turning a 4 door into a 2 door, massive suspension lift(s), huge tyre upgrades which make the car look unrealistic (one of the Creta's posted extensively in our forum), axle addition (a Thar with 2 rear axles), roll cages (interior or exterior) amongst other changes.

The last list of changes are completely banned, as all vehicles which run on the street(s) are tested and approved by ARAI, for a specific structure, suspension, engine and seating capacity. Any changes to this has to be reapproved by ARAI, as it is a complete deviation from the approved structure - thus the order of the Hon'ble Supreme Court that such modifications will lead to RC cancellation.

Hope this clears some doubts.
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Old 10th January 2019, 14:03   #13
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Default Re: SC: Vehicle cannot be altered to change original specs

Quote:
Originally Posted by LegalEagle View Post

Hope this clears some doubts.
What about reflashing the software to bump up the power output? This type of changes are not visible but can have consequence on the overall safety.
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Old 10th January 2019, 14:09   #14
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Default Re: SC: Vehicle cannot be altered to change original specs

Quote:
Originally Posted by LegalEagle View Post
as a lawyer, let me quickly clarify some points:
What about tyre changes, or upsizing, example 16" to 17"?

What about lowering springs?

Pramod
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Old 10th January 2019, 14:14   #15
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Default Re: SC: Vehicle cannot be altered to change original specs

The SC order mentions in Section 52 (Alteration of a vehicle) - "Provided that it shall not be necessary to obtain such approval for making any change in the unladen weight of the motor vehicle consequent on the addition or removal of fittings or accessories if such change does not exceed two percent of the weightentered in the certificate of registration."

Does that mean that my rooftop luggage carrier weighing probably 20 Kg (which is 1.25% of my TUV's 1.6 tonne dry weight) should be ok and legal even without me notifying the RTO where it is registered? That's what it seems like to me. I am seriously considering paying a lawyer to interpret this order. If I am correct, I will print out this judgement and show it to any cops who stop me for having a luggage carrier atop.

Last edited by locusjag : 10th January 2019 at 14:16. Reason: Removed horrible formatting errors carried over from the SC judgment PDF file...
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