The Delhi High Court Wednesday directed the authorities to take strict action against unauthorised fitting of crash guards or bull bars on vehicles.

A bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Tushar Rao Gedela noted that crash guards and bull bars on motor vehicles are not allowed and the government agencies shall implement the provisions of law rigorously.

The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways had in December 2017 issued a notification directing all states to take stern action against their unauthorised fitting on vehicles.

On March 12, 2018, however, the high court had stayed the Centre's notification. But, the stay was vacated by the high court on December 2, 2019.

Central government Standing Counsel Anil Soni said crash guards or bull bars play havoc with pedestrians as they can cause grievous injuries to pedestrians if the vehicle hits them.

He said if a speedy vehicle with crash guard meets with an accident, air bags will not open and this raises safety issues.

The ministry had in December 2017 written to state transport principal secretaries, secretaries and commissioners saying that "the fitments of crash guards/ bull bar is in contravention of section 52 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 and attracts penalty under section 190 and 191 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988".

"Crash guards or bull bars on the vehicles pose serious safety concerns to the pedestrians as well as occupants of the vehicle. It is therefore requested that states may take strict action against the unauthorised fitment of crash guard/ bull bar on the motor vehicles," it had said.

Section 190 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 mentions that any person who drives or causes or allows to be driven, in any public place a motor vehicle, which violates the standards prescribed in relation to road safety, control of noise and air-pollution, shall be punishable for the first offence with a fine of Rs 1,000 and for any second or subsequent offence with a fine of Rs 2,000.

Section 191 prescribes, "Whoever being an importer of or dealer in motor vehicles, sells or delivers or offers to sell or deliver a motor vehicle or trailer in such condition that the use thereof in a public place would be in contravention of Chapter VII or any rule made thereunder or alters the motor vehicle or trailer so as to render its conditions such that its use in a public place would be in contravention of Chapter VII or any rule made thereunder shall be punishable with fine which may extend to Rs 5,000."

The high court was hearing a plea by Aarshi Kapoor and Sidharth Bagla, through Advocate Anil Kumar Aggarwal. The plea claimed that while these bumpers may look stylish and protect the vehicle in low speed impacts, in high speed accidents they would defeat the in-built safety features of the car resulting in serious and fatal injuries to the passengers.

The PIL by the two individuals has claimed that the metal bumpers installed at the front and back of vehicles are a threat to the lives of pedestrians as well as passengers and should be banned.

The court was hearing another plea by one Mohammed Arif, who claimed to be a manufacturer and dealer of crash guards and bull bars and had sought stay on the operation of the ministry's December 7, 2017 direction to the states.

Arif had sought to implead himself in the pending PIL and had said the Centre's decision has no legality as there is no rule, law or bye-law dealing with accessories such as crash guards or bull bars.

The dealer has also said that bull bars do not fall under the purview of section 52 of the Motor Vehicle Act, because the section pertains to modification in a vehicle and not with after-market fitments.

With PTI Inputs