Modifying your Car/Bike is illegal — Supreme Court| Carpathy-The Car Doctors!

So your younger brother or your son has modified his bike into the “Dhoom”(Bollywood movie starring John Abraham & Abhishek Bachchan) style, fast & furious monster that gets a speed boost with those newly fitted nitrous oxide cylinders? Or he is planning to get his bike modified? Or you were planning to get your old car totally revamped by modifying the exteriors, getting it painted & give it a sports car kind of a cool look, so that you can drive around with your friends on a weekend with the specially imported, high bass music system installed in your car, switched on? If you could recollect even an aberrated or a remotely similar version of the above mentioned scenarios, the following is an important read for you.

If you get your car/bike modified, it could lead to the registration of your car/bike getting cancelled. On 9th Jan 2019, the Supreme Court of India modified the vehicle modification law in India.

Details of the judgement:- The judgement passed by Justice Arun Mishra & Justice Vineet Saran, adjudicating the matter in the Supreme Court of India, says the registered vehicle must meet the original specifications set by the manufacturer. This is as per section 52(1) of the Motor Vehicles Act. The SC judges overturned the Kerala High Court’s earlier decision.

In simple language, if you have modified your bike/car beyond a certain limit then your vehicle registration could get cancelled and as a result you will no longer be able to zip around the city in your vehicle.

Referring to the amendment made in a provision of the Motor Vehicles Act, the apex court said it was “amended keeping in view road safety and protection of environment”.

Why the ruling?

“Rules deal in minute details with the construction and maintenance of the vehicle. Rules also deal with the safety of other users on the road. If some individual interest is likely to suffer, such individual interest must give way to the larger public interest,” the bench stated. Justice Mishra, in the judgement, said that since the vehicle manufacturers test the prototype for road-worthiness, safety and include them in the specifications, modifying a vehicle to alter this might prove unsafe.

In simple language, a model of the car with chosen specifications of engine, tyre, weight, aerodynamics etc is tested in real conditions, by the car manufacturer. Once it is tested successfully, large scale manufacturing of that model of the car with the specifications which were installed in the successfully tested car, is done. Hence, making modifications in the car would possibly alter the factors which would enable a stable run of your vehicle thus jeopardizing the safety of it’s travelers. In a way, by the statement that has been released, it’s been projected that the SC has passed a judgement keeping the good-will & the Indian citizen’s safety in mind.

The car/bike accessory market in India, which has become huge over a period of time, will be hit by this decision.

Now let us try to understand what is allowed & what is not allowed:-

Allowed ‘modifications’:-

  1. CNG :- ‘Retro fitments of cars with CNG kits are permitted’ which means if you have modified the fuel mechanism of your car to a CNG run vehicle, it counts as allowed. For this your vehicle will not be de-registered. This is because it’s been permitted by the Central Government under the law hence it would not count as a structural change.
  2. Painting & minor alterations:- It is said that minor alterations as permitted under the law & specified by the car manufacturer; getting the car painted to a colour of the owner’s choice, would not result in the car getting de-registered.

Not-allowed ‘modifications’:-

  1. To replace the engine of an old vehicle with a new engine of same make & same capacity would require the approval of the registering authority or else the registration of the car could get cancelled.
  2. Minor changes made to the body or the chassis of the vehicle are not allowed.
  3. Tyres of higher capacity or wider tyres w.r.t road safety measures, aftermarket rims, louder horns are not legal.
  4. If the modification varies from the stock specification of the vehicle and is endorsed in the RC(Registered Certificate Copy), it would still be deemed illegal.
  5. Any changes ranging from modified exhausts, or those which change the decibel and emission output of a vehicle and even fixtures of modified parts like spoilers and body panels can be considered outside the purview of the law.

Endorsing changes in RC is futile:-Earlier, the rule was that any changes done to the vehicle should be endorsed in the Registration Certificate of the car but the new ruling of Supreme Court is completely different and says that even endorsing it in the RC would not make the modifications legal.

Unclear — The status of the cars that altered the structure after registration has not been clearly stated. Court is silent but it is understood that those who alter the structure after registration would get their registrations cancelled whenever this fact is brought to light.

There is a strong chance that the Supreme Court will revisit the ruling in the future. The car/bike accessory industry being hit, someone could file an appeal, but for the time being, the rule will stay & people will need to abide by it.

In case you are planning to deck up your prized possession(car/bike), but are unsure about it because of the recent SC ruling, feel free to get in touch with Carpathy to get guidance as to what is acceptable & what is not.