Law Insider

Legal News, Current Trends and Legal Insight | Supreme Court of India and High Courts

Vehicle Modification – Legal or Illegal?

8 min read

By Diksha Sharma

Introduction

Everyone in this world wants to reach somewhere or every person is having his own destiny. Each individual adopts different means and methods to reach their places. Generally, vehicles are known for the best means to arrive at someplace. A vehicle is a machine used by people to travel from one place to another.

Each one is having their personal vehicle today whether it is bike, car or bicycles. Today’s generation is of thinking to have some different things from others. All of us have thought to modify our cars or bikes. Modifications of vehicles help to make our ride set separately from the rest of the vehicles.

Modifications help to make a vehicle vary, both in terms of appearance and performance. They are the changes made to a vehicle generally, to increase fuel efficiency, boost power, air- conditioning, tyres, brakes, and sunroofs etc. Mostly in bikes we have seen additional lightnings especially in areas of tyres.

But sometimes these modifications can become very dangerous that can cause harm someone badly just like if a person if thinking to modify the breaks of a bike, but they do not fit properly than that person is putting his and other person lives in danger.

Additional lighting or high beam lights used in vehicles can cause accidents as they make vision of other person worse as it directly reflects into eyes.

So the question arises is that modifications are illegal or legal? Why modifications are legal and illegal? Is Government is having any role regarding these modifications? So, we are going to study some of these questions in this article.

Modifications: Legal or Illegal?

Modification of vehicle is just an addition of owner’s personality which he does according to his preference and budget. Everyone loves doing modifications in their vehicles for making them noticeable from the usual crowd especially done by youngsters.

These may include the variety of changes both on the inside and outside of vehicles some of these comprise of market alloy wheels or leather seat covers etc. Some changes are done just to improve their utility, and some are done to improve their visuals or outer body.

So, on the securer sides there are some legal modifications which a person can do in his respective vehicle.

Some legal modifications can be using alloy wheels as this is the most common modification, we used to see in vehicles, but it must be of proper size according to the tyres of the vehicle. After marketing CNG kits are not modification as it is used to reduce cost of fuel, but it needs to be get registered with the RTO.

But sometimes these modifications count illegal as they violate rules, and they can also put you in trouble. The problem with modification starts when some people tend to make some drastic changes to their vehicles and these changes does not make such vehicles safe for themselves or other people too on roads.

Every manufacture has some set of guidelines by Government when it comes to horn of vehicles but then also people install fancy horns from market like sirens or pressure horns. These horns sound great but are very harmful and bad for our pockets too as heavy fines are imposed on these horns.

In most of the cities there is a trend to upgrade the standard lightening of vehicles by the manufacturer to bright bulbs or changing the color of fog lights. It looks cool but also cause many harms as they are prone to accidents as they can blind the traffic of other person on road. So we have to make sure that they are covered all the time.

So in this way modification is both legal as well as illegal but it depends on us what we choose as it not for us but also for others who are along with us on roads.

Results of alteration in Vehicles

Alteration in vehicle is done just to make our own vehicle separate from other in visuals as well as in promoting more good performance than others. Today, youth generation is more addicted to these modifications for their vehicles for increment in personality in front of others and also for their own assistances.

Neon lights, subwoofers, LED lights or upgraded horns etc are some common modifications today done by us but we forgot to think about the results of these modifications. As these modifications are very expensive and not easy to do by everyone and if they are illegal then it become more expensive as an individual have to pay fine for it.

At times these modifications result into accident or increase the risk of accident as new adoptions made to the vehicle cannot be good every time. As if we talk about the tyres of a vehicle bigger tyres may look good but it can increase the risk of accident because on some occasions it is difficult to control the vehicle which can harm us and other party too.

As everyone loves having big car especially with modifications but some cannot afford it due to financial conditions or any other such reasons. This type of motives can give a rise to chance of stole a vehicle as good and expensive thing attracts everyone. So changes can be more expensive by these reasons.

Laws regarding Modification of Vehicle in India

To avoid any mishappening due to the modifications done in vehicles our Government has introduced Motor Vehicles Act, 1988. It provides safeguards against the accidents and harm cause by the alteration of vehicles. This act came into force on 1 July 1988.

This act makes it compulsory for every vehicle to get insured and registered under specified authorities.

This act provide legal provisions regarding licensing of vehicles, insurance, liabilities and penalties etc. The owner is bound to insure his vehicle against third party risk. It also contains special provisions regarding transport vehicles like number and size of tyres of vehicle, model of vehicle and many more.

According to Section 39 of the Act it is necessary to registration of vehicle. The Section states:

No person shall drive any motor vehicle and no owner of a motor vehicle shall cause  or permit the vehicle to  be driven in any public place or in any other place unless the vehicle  is registered  in accordance  with this  Chapter and  the certificate of registration of the vehicle has not been suspended  or cancelled  and the  vehicle carries  a registration mark displayed in the prescribed manner:

Provided that nothing in this section shall apply to a motor vehicle in possession of a dealer subject to such conditions as may be prescribed by the Central Government”

This section states that without registration no vehicle can be driven in any public place or any other place. A certificate of registration must be obtained and a registration mark on it is compulsory.

Now if we talk about terms regarding alteration of vehicles than it is stated under Section 52 of this act, it states:

“52. Alteration in motor vehicle.

(1) No owner of a motor vehicle shall so alter the vehicle that the particulars contained in the certificate of registration are at variance with those originally specified by the manufacturer: Provided that where the owner of a motor vehicle makes modification of the engine, or any part thereof, of a vehicle for facilitating its operation by different type of fuel or source of energy including battery, compressed natural gas, solar power, liquid petroleum gas or any other fuel or source of energy, by fitment of a conversion kit, such modification shall be carried out subject to such conditions as may be prescribed: Provided further that the Central Government may prescribe specifications, conditions for approval, retrofitment and other related matters for such conversion kits: Provided also that the Central Government may grant exemption for alteration of vehicles in a manner other than specified above, for any specific purpose.

(2) Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-section (1), a State Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, authorise, subject to such conditions as may be specified in the notification, and permit any person owning not less than ten transport vehicles to alter any vehicle owned by him so as to replace the engine thereof with engine of the same make and type, without the approval of registering authority.

(3) Where any alteration has been made in motor vehicle without the approval of registering authority or by reason of replacement of its engine without such approval under sub-section (2), the owner of the vehicle shall, within fourteen days of the making of the alteration, report the alteration to the registering authority within whose jurisdiction he resides and shall forward the certificate of registration to that authority together with the prescribed fee in order that particulars of registration may be entered therein.

(4) A registering authority other than the original registering authority making any such entry shall communicate the details of the entry to the original registering authority.

(5) Subject to the provisions made under sub-sections (1), (2), (3) and (4), no person holding a vehicle under a hire-purchase agreement shall make any alteration to the vehicle except with the written consent of the registered owner. Explanation.—For the purposes of this section, “alteration” means a change in the structure of a vehicle which results in a change in its basic feature.].”

This section states that no motor vehicles should be altered unless the owner has given the notice of alteration in such vehicle to the Registration office who has jurisdiction in that particular area.

It is not necessary to obtain order from the authorities for the owner if he is adding or removing any accessory but it should not exceed more than 2%.

If the authorities find it to be legal alterations than within 7 days they have to communicate the approval to the owner but if the owner does not receive it in the said period of time than he can take it as approved for alterations. This act mainly says that no one can alter his vehicle without the permission of registration authorities.

Conclusion

Why have we made changes or alterations in our stuff? Just like our house, we make many changes only to make it look good or different from others. We do many things to enhance the beauty of our house like painting, using expensive tiles or buying good furniture etc.

Our vehicles and our house have no match but then also we get our vehicles modified with different techniques and models. We spent a lot of money on it just to make if look different from other one.

But we must keep in our minds that these changes should not affect our life and others too. Changes our good but at some extent only that if they are not hurting anyone or disturbing other lives as well.

It is not necessary always that Government should instruct us these basic things. We ourselves also must be responsible for the safety of other people walking on roads.