Modified cars, bikes could lose registration if specs are changed – Supreme Court

According to provisions in Motor Vehicle Act, 'alteration' means change in structure of vehicle which alters its fundamental feature. This rule is applicable to any car, bike, truck, bus, etc which are registered at the RTO.

Following a new Supreme Court ruling, modification of a model vehicle to something more exclusive can result in loss of registration. This judgment was passed by Justices Arun Mishra and Vineet Saran on Tuesday overruling the Kerala High Court decision.

The new ruling states that any vehicle being registered under Section 52(1) of Motor Vehicle Act should comply with original specifications by the manufacturer, failing which it will not be registered. This ruling basically is implies that modification of cars and bikes, be it modifying exteriors or engine, is illegal. And will result in loss of registration no.

Modified Mahindra Thar. Image for reference.

The ruling states that minor changes such as the color of the vehicle along with minor alterations to fitments will be permitted but no structural changes to body or chassis will be allowed. Even to replace the engine of an old vehicle with a new engine so as to enhance capacities will need permission from the registration authorities or the registration could get cancelled while a change in tyres to higher capacity tyres will also not be permitted.

Justice Mishra stated that the prototype of the vehicle is tested under stringent conditions so as to ensure its roadworthiness and compliance to several safety conditions. Hence any sort of modifications could see loss of registration.

Modified Royal Enfield. Image for reference.

The Bench further iterated that retro fitments of cars with CNG kits would be permitted under the law as it does not account for modifications and does not require any structural changes.

The Bench was silent on the issue of registration among those vehicles which are altered after registration but indicated that these vehicles could see their registrations cancelled. Read the full judgement of Supreme Court below.