Explain how RTOs registering vehicles sans fitness tests: HC

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court today asked the Maharashtra government to explain how registration was being granted to new vehicles without carrying out mandatory fitness tests.

A bench of Justices A S Oka and Riyaz Chagla directed the state’s counsel Abhinandan Vagyani to take instructions and clarify its stand by Wednesday.

The bench was hearing a PIL filed by Shrikant Karve, an RTI activist from Pune, alleging that officials at various regional transport offices in the state has been granting fitness or registration certificates, to private as well as transport vehicles without subjecting the vehicles to mandatory fitness tests.

On a previous hearing, another bench led by Justice Oka had held that since under the Central Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, registration of vehicles is treated as valid only if the vehicle had a valid fitness certificate, those which did not have fitness certificate must be deemed as unregistered and not permitted to be driven at all.

The court was, however, informed recently that the Maharashtra government had been granting registration to new vehicles without a fitness certificate.

Vagyani told the court today that this was being done since all new vehicles were already checked for fitness by the manufacturers before delivery.

The bench however, held that the state’s stand was contrary to the provisions of the law, and hence, illegal.

A fitness certificate is an official document certifying that the vehicle is fit to be driven in public places.

According to the Central Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, a vehicle must have a fitness certificate issued by the manufacturer and also, another one issued by the RTO after inspecting the condition of the vehicle, its pollution certificate, tax, insurance, and other such details.

“Since under the Act, the registration of a vehicle is treated as valid only if it has a valid certificate of fitness from the manufacturer and the inspecting authority, the state’s stand that a vehicle can be granted registration merely on the basis of the date of its manufacture is prima facie illegal. It (the state’s stand) is also not in consonance with the law and the previous orders of this court,” the bench said.

“It is a very serious issue. Every day, you are granting new registration certificates without proper fitness certificates. And in doing so, you are harming the interest of several persons,” the bench said.

The court has now directed the state to either make a statement that it will stop issuing registration certificates to vehicles without valid fitness certificates, or, to explain to the court the legal provisions under which the officers of the state were granting registration without fitness certificates.