The Kerala High Court has observed that prima facie a dealer can deliver a new motor vehicle on the basis of temporary registration.

The Bench of Justice P.V. Kunhikrishnan observed –

"… a combined reading of the provisions referred above prima facie shows that the dealer can deliver a new motor vehicle to the owner on the strength of a temporary certificate of registration issued under Section 43 of the Act 1988, after assigning a temporary registration mark under Rule 53C of the Central Motor Vehicle Rules, 1989."

In this case, the Petitioner had purchased a brand-new motor vehicle from the 2nd Respondent who was the authorized dealer of the vehicle. The Petitioner intended to get '5252' as her vehicle number as it was her favorite number, however, it was to be available only after three months as per Rule 95 of the Kerala Motor Vehicle Rules, 1989.

The Petitioner had purchased the vehicle and paid one-time motor vehicle tax and obtained an insurance policy also. The grievance of the Petitioner was that after purchasing the vehicle and paying all the amount due to the dealer and other statutory authorities, the vehicle was not delivered due to the instructions from the 1st respondent, The Regional Transport Officer (Registering Authority, Ernakulam) that the vehicle cannot be plied using a temporary registration number.

Aggrieved, the Petitioner filed a Writ Petition before the High Court.

The Court noted that the stand of the 1st Respondent was sheer injustice to the Petitioner. In this context, the Court further noted –

"Section 43 of the Motor Vehicles Act 1988 (for short the 'Act, 1988') provides for temporary registration of a motor vehicle. The above Section was substituted with effect from 1.4.2021 as per Act 32 of 2019. Ext P2 temporary certificate for registration was issued to the petitioner under the Act, 1988. An application for temporary certificate of registration is to be made in Form 20 appended to the Central Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989. According to the 1st respondent, the vehicle cannot be delivered to the petitioner until it is registered, i.e., permanently registered."

The Court further added that Respondents were relying on the 2nd proviso to Section 41(1) of the Act, 1988. The proviso to Section 41(6) of the Act, 1988 states that in case of a new motor vehicle, the application for the registration of which is made under the second proviso to sub-section (1) of Section 41, such motor vehicle shall not be delivered to the owner until such registration mark is displayed on the motor vehicle in such form and manner as may be prescribed by the Central Government.

The Court further observed that the term 'registration' quoted under Section 43 of the Motor Vehicles Act 1988 and Rule 53C of the Central Motor Vehicle Rules, 1988 clearly takes within its ambit a temporary certificate of registration as well.

"Admittedly, the petitioner has got a right to participate in the bid for getting the number of her choice as per Rule 95 of the Rules, 1989. The number of her choice is available only after three months. In other words, those who purchased a vehicle and obtained a permanent registration number can ply their vehicle immediately and those who purchased the vehicle and want a fancy number as per Rule 95 of the Rules, 1989 have to wait indefinitely. This in my opinion, is a prima facie discrimination," the Bench held.

While noting that the Petitioner is entitled to participate in the bid as per Rule 95, but he cannot ply the vehicle even after paying the entire consideration, tax, and obtaining an insurance policy, the Court held that the Petitioner had made out a prima facie case.

Thus, the Court directed the 1st Respondent to issue appropriate direction to the 2nd Respondent within three days from the date of receipt of this order to the effect that the vehicle purchased by the Petitioner is delivered to her based on the temporary permit of registration certificate.

Cause Title – Praicy Joseph v. Regional Transport Officer & Ors.

Click here to read/download the Order