The Delhi High Court on Monday stayed the Centre’s notification directing all states to take stern action against unauthorised fitting of crash guards or bull bars on vehicles. A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar asked the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways to examine the matter and directed that there would be no challans till April 18, the next date of hearing.
“Under what power have you issued this notification? Under what law have you issued advisory to the states to take penal action against the offenders? Till the next date, there would be a stay and no challans will be issued,” the bench said. The high court said the ministry has not properly interpreted the Motor Vehicles Act while issuing the notification and asked it to file a detailed reply.
The Ministry had in December last year written to the Principal Secretaries, Secretaries and Commissioners, Transport of the states, saying “it is brought to your notice 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 crashguard/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 one Mohammed Arif, who claims to be a manufacturer and dealer of crash guards or bull bars, has sought stay on the operation of the ministry’s December 7, 2017 direction to the states.
Arif has sought to implead himself in a pending PIL, filed by Aarshi Kapoor and Sidharth Bagla, which has 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. Arif, in his impleadment application, has 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 in his application 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.