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Fancy Vehicle Modifications Are Now Illegal: 8 Facts to Know About SC’s Latest Judgement

“No vehicle can be altered so as to change original specification made by [the] manufacturer. Such particulars cannot be altered, which have been specified by the manufacturer for the purpose of entry in the certificate of registration.”

Modified cars, complete with added silencers and fancy doors, made to look like a different make than the original, are now illegal. Even bikes that are modified to abandon their original look will be listed as illegal.

Although these are mere examples and not the complete list of specifications that the Supreme Court has ruled to be illegal, your car might not be eligible for registration, if modified.

The SC bench comprising Justices Arun Mishra and Vineet Saran ruled that vehicles need to meet “original specifications by the manufacturer” to be registered.

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“No vehicle can be altered so as to change original specification made by [the] manufacturer. Such particulars cannot be altered, which have been specified by the manufacturer for the purpose of entry in the certificate of registration,” the bench ruled.

Here are all the facts about this important decision that may make your car or bike liable to registration cancellation.

Source: Modified Cars India/ Facebook.

1. Overturning a decision by the Kerala High Court, the SC ruled that vehicles cannot go beyond the specifications originally provided by the manufacturer under Section 52 (1) of the Motor Vehicle Act.

2. Justice Mishra, in the judgement, said that since the vehicle manufacturers test the prototype for road-worthiness, safety and include them in the specifications, and so modifying a vehicle to alter this might prove unsafe.

“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.

3. Speaking about the Motor Vehicle Act, Justice Mishra said that it was “amended with the purpose to prohibit alteration of vehicles in any manner, including change of tyres of higher capacity, keeping in view road safety and protection of the environment”.

4. In case the owner wishes to change the engine of a registered vehicle, they need permission from the registering authority before doing so. Without this, they risk getting their registration cancelled.

Source: Amrith Raj/ Wikimedia Commons.

5. Clarifying how the act will affect already registered vehicles, the SC bench said that the owners risk losing their registration if they modify their vehicles beyond the specified allowances. New vehicles will be denied registration if modified by owners.

6. However, you are still legally allowed to make minor changes in your car/ bike that do not go beyond the specifications provided by your manufacturer.


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7. One of these modifications is the “RTO-approved paint changes”, including body graphics and wraps which are still permissible.

8. Replacing your petrol or diesel car engine with a CNG kit too is still legal and will not be counted as structural change, ruled the SC.

This is a welcome judgement considering that fancy modifications like altering silencers are bad for the environment. Changed vehicular dimensions may also prove unsafe on the road. While you can still paint your vehicle to your choice and add a CNG kit if you are environmentally conscious, the latest verdict hammers down safety hazards posed by modified vehicles.

(Edited by Shruti Singhal)

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