Law Insider

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

What is the process of registration of Vehicle under Motor Vehicles Act, 1988?

8 min read

By Nirupam Deo

What is the Motor Vehicles Act?

The present Motor Vehicles Act was introduced in the year 1988. The Act replaced the Indian Motor Vehicles Act, 1914 which was followed by a few Indian States when it was formed.

The former Act was confined to 18 Sections and covered grounds for Licensing and Registration of the Vehicle. It was replaced by Indian Motor Vehicles Act, 1939.

This Act was enacted by the Parliament of India. The Act provided various rules ranging from Licensing, Registration, Insuring of the Vehicle to claiming Penalties and damages to harm caused to the driver and the pedestrians.

Motor Vehicles Act focuses only on Motor Vehicles. A Motor Vehicle can be defined as a vehicle that is capable of running on the roads. Its power source can be internal or external.

The Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 when enacted contained 18 sections, covering the necessities but with changing times new Sections were added which now compares to almost 250 plus Sections in total (including subsections of various sections)

The Motor Vehicles Act is strict on the driver for the issue of licensing, registration and insurance. Making insurance for the Vehicle is considered mandatory, the Insurance company has to pay the driver’s family in case fatal or grievous injuries are received to the driver.

This Act had been under the course of many amendments. The latest amendment, the MOTOR VEHICLE (Amendment) Act,2019 made the punishment for driving without a helmet, drunk driving, driving without a license to be charged with higher punishments to deter the drivers from committing such errors on their part.

Process of Registration under Motor Vehicle Act

The bare notation of Section 39 of Motor Vehicle Act 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.”

It implies by the bare reading of the Section that no person or owner is supposed to drive an unregistered vehicle.

Failing to comply with it as such will be dealt with under Section 192 of the Motor Vehicle Act.

Section 192 in The Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 reads as follows:

“Using a vehicle without registration:

(1) Whoever drives a motor vehicle or causes or allows a motor vehicle to be used in contravention of the provisions of section 39 shall be punishable for the first offence with a fine which may extend to five thousand rupees but shall not be less than two thousand rupees for a second or subsequent offence with imprisonment which may extend to one year or with fine which may extend to ten thousand rupees but shall not be less than five thousand rupees or with both: Provided that the Court may, for reasons to be recorded, impose a lesser punishment.

(2) Nothing in this section shall apply to the use of a motor vehicle in an emergency for the conveyance of persons suffering from sickness or injuries or for the transport of food or materials to relieve distress or of medical supplies for a like purpose: Provided that the person using the vehicle reports about the same to the Regional Transport Authority within seven days from the date of such use.

(3) The Court to which an appeal lies from any conviction in respect of an offence of the nature specified in sub-section (1), may set aside or vary any order made by the Court below, notwithstanding that no appeal lies against the conviction in connection with which such order was made.”

This clearly states the person who does not comply with Section 39 shall be punished with penalties and imprisonment unless it was a critical life or death situation.

Section 40 of the Motor Vehicle Act states the procedure of registration of vehicles. The bare reading of the act suggests:

“Registration, where to be made:

Subject to the provisions of section 42, section 43 and section 60, every owner of a motor vehicle shall cause the vehicle to be registered by a registering authority in whose jurisdiction he has the residence or place of business where the vehicle is normally kept.” It signifies the authority to be addressed for the process of registration.”

Section 41 addresses the procedure of making the registration. It contains various subsections dealing with how to register for an individual and for joint owners, fees as prescribed by Central Government, issuing a certificate of registration, specifying the type of motor vehicle (its design, construction, type, model, etc.), giving a distinguishing mark to the vehicle by the Central Government, validation of the registration which extends to a period of 15 years from the date of registration, Application for renewal of the registration of the vehicle, a duplicate of the certificate of registration are all covered in this section.

Section 42 of the Act lays down a special provision for Diplomatic and Consular Officers. It clearly states that they are exempted from the above process as given in Sections 39 and 40.

It shall be the decision of the Central Government to who to certify as Diplomatic and Consular Officers.

Section 43 assigns the provisions of “Temporary Registration”. The temporary registration is only valid for a term of 1 month at maximum and cannot be renewed.

Section 45 is concerned with the power of refusal to register a vehicle under certain circumstances. It reads as:

“The registering authority may, by order, refuse to register any motor vehicle, or renew the certificate of registration in respect of a motor vehicle (other than a transport vehicle), if in either case, the registering authority has reason to believe that it is a stolen motor vehicle or the vehicle is mechanically defective or fails to comply with the requirements of this Act or the rules made thereunder, or if the applicant fails to furnish particulars of any previous registration of the vehicle or furnishes inaccurate particulars in the application for registration of the vehicle or, as the case may be, for renewal of the certificate or registration thereof and the registering authority shall furnish the applicant whose vehicle is refused registration, or whose application for renewal of the certificate of registration is refused, a copy of such order, together with the reasons for such refusal.”

Section 53 deals with the Suspension of Registration. The various circumstances under which the bare reading of the Section says:

“Suspension of registration:

(1) If any registering authority or other prescribed authority has reason to believe that any motor vehicle within its jurisdiction—

(a) is in such a condition that its use in a public place would constitute a danger to the public, or that it fails to comply with the requirements of this Act or the rules made thereunder, or

(b) has been, or is being, used for hire or reward without a valid permit for being used as such, the authority may, after giving the owner an opportunity of making any representation he may wish to make (by sending to the owner notice by registered post acknowledgement due at his address entered in the certificate of registration), for reasons to be recorded in writing, suspend the certificate of registration of the vehicle—

(i) in any case falling under clause (a), until the defects are rectified to its satisfaction; and

(ii) in any case falling under clause (b), for a period not exceeding four months.

(2) An authority other than a registering authority shall when making a suspension order under sub-section (1), intimate in writing the fact of such suspension and the reasons therefor to the registering authority within whose jurisdiction the vehicle is at the time of the suspension.

(3) Where the registration of a motor vehicle has been suspended under subsection (1) for a continuous period of not less than one month, the registering authority, within whose jurisdiction the vehicle was when the registration was suspended, shall, if it is not the original registering authority, inform that authority of the suspension.

(4) The owner of a motor vehicle shall, on the demand of a registering authority or other prescribed authority which has suspended the certificate of registration of the vehicle under this section, surrender the certificate of registration.

(5) A certificate of registration surrendered under sub-section (4) shall be returned to the owner when the order suspending registration has been rescinded and not before.” Under these conditions, the Registration can be suspended.”

Section 56 covers the Certificate of Fitness of Transport Vehicle. If the vehicle is not fit to be used according to the standards of the Central Government, then the transport vehicle shall not be deemed to be validly registered for section 39.

Section 59 deals with the Power of the Central Government to fix the age of a Motor Vehicle. Extending after that fixed age the Vehicle shall become unusable and its Certificate of Fitness shall be rescinded.

The disputes relating to registration of Vehicle is generally of the kind where insurance companies try to forfeit the contract owing to liabilities of Sections 39 and 40.

Under these Sections, the companies try to blame everything on the owner owing to the Registration being expired before the acclaimed Insurance term.

In National Insurance Company Ltd. Vs. Amarjit Singh on 17 March 2021, it was held by the Court that the company knowing everything about the owner having only Temporary registration did take Insurance Price for a whole year and didn’t warn anything in its terms and conditions about the expiration of period and the future liabilities that shall be imposed on them.

Taking into account that the Insurance company had to give its due to the Owner of the Vehicle. Identical judgments were reached in the cases of National Insurance Co. Ltd. Vs. M/S. Shyam Indus on 15 February 2018 and

United India Insurance Co. Ltd. Vs. M/S. Faisal Metals on 19 February 2018.

Various cases protrude now and then about the fake registrations by the miscreants and the Government is doing its best to impose higher liabilities to curb those.


Registration of Vehicle is sure a tenuous process, but it had been a major role player in keeping tabs and imposing liabilities to offenders wherever possible. New Subsections are regularly added into the fray to make the process simpler and convenient for the Vehicle Owner.

It ensures no vehicle runs on the street, which is not registered, and it becomes easier to track them if a crime is committed by a particular Vehicle.

Thus, this Section has been a boon to the common public to ensure the safety of everyone, for Government, the process has become hassle-free and it also is an environment-friendly measure.