Jammu and Kashmir High Court has sought response to a plea challenging a government circular mandating re-registration of vehicles purchased outside Jammu and Kashmir.
After hearing the parties, a bench of justice Ali Muhammad Magrey observed that owner who purchases vehicle from outside J&K can be asked to get the local registration mark for the vehicle if such vehicle remains in J&K for a period exceeding 12 months. The court however asked whether it is the central government or RTO Kashmir who can issue such direction. "Prima facie there appears to be a consensus over the fact that while adhering to the provisions of law, the Competent Authority can seek such response from the owners whose vehicle remains in the State other than the one from where the vehicle is purchased for a period exceeding 12 months, but the question is raised as to who that Competent Authority is," the court said and asked the respondents to file their response so that the controversy is set at rest.
The court issued notice to J&K government's Commissioner/ Secretary
Transport Department, Transport Commissioner and Regional Transport Officer Kashmir Srinagar. Deputy advocate general Hakeem Amaan accepted notice on behalf of the government.
The petition has challenged circular dated 27.03.2021 issued by Regional Transport Officer, Kashmir making it mandatory for owners who have purchased their vehicles bearing outside Registration Mark to apply for a new Registration Mark as per the provisions of Section 47/50 of Motor Vehicle Act 1988 and Rule 54 of Central Motor Vehicle Rules 1989 within a period of 15 days failing which action as warranted would be initiated against them.
While the petition seeks to quash the circular for being in contravention of Section 47 of Motor Vehicles Act, it seeks direction to government to adhere to the Act in respect of the assignment of new registration mark to the vehicles bought from outside J&K.
While arguing the case, senior advocate Faisal Qadri invited attention of the Court to section 46, 47 and 50 of the Motor Vehicles Act. "The scheme of law provides that when a motor vehicle registered in one State has been kept in another State for a period exceeding twelve months, the owner of the vehicle shall within such period and in such form containing such particulars as may be prescribed by the Central Government, apply to the Registering Authority within whose jurisdiction the vehicle then is, for the assignment of a new registration mark," Advocate Qadri said.
He submitted that it is the Central Government which can prescribe the period and form in which the vehicle is required to be registered by the registering authority.
The senior counsel told the court that in the event the circular was given effect, it would frustrate the object of Section 47 which is sought to be implemented by the RTO Kashmir.
Notably, Section 47 of the Act prescribes that it is the central government which can issue such direction and not the RTO Kashmir.
Advocate General D C Raina whose presence was sought by the court, questioned the maintainability of the writ petition on the ground that no cause of action is accrued to the petitioner with reference to violation of any of his rights by the action taken by the government.
The AG said in implementation and adherence to the law and in application of Section 47, 50 and 54 of the Motor Vehicles Act, the respondents (authorities concerned) have the authority to seek registration of the vehicle which remained in J&K for a period exceeding 12 months.
Meanwhile the court held that the appearance of the Advocate General in the matter is expected to take care of the apprehension that the senior counsel for the petitioner has projected vis-à-vis seizure of the vehicles at the hands of the Police under the garb of the circular issued.