Rashid Paul

RTO’s circular on seizure of vehicles purchased from outside of J&K challenged in court

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HC asks J&K administration to respond by April 15

Srinagar: The J&K High Court on Thursday issued a notice to J&K administration on a recent circular by Regional Transport Officer (RTO), Kashmir that has led to a spree of seizure by police of vehicles purchased by the residents here from outside of J&K.

In order to arrest the spree of seizures by police “the court felt it appropriate that respondents are asked to file their response so that the controversy is set at rest,” said Justice A M Magray who heard the matter.

He accordingly directed a notice to respondents and called for a reply by or before 15th of April.

The court said “the appearance of the Advocate General of J&K 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 impugned circular”.

It accordingly listed the matter for hearing on the next Thursday.

The petitioner had challenged the authority of the RTO on issuing a circular on 27th of March 2021, mandating the vehicle owners of J&K, who have purchased their vehicles bearing outside registration mark to apply for a new registration mark within 15 days.

Faisal Qadri, the counsel for the petitioner, invited attention of the court to section 46, 47 and 50 of the Motor Vehicles Act (MVA) 1988.

He said the law provides that when a motor vehicle registered in one state has been kept in another state for a period exceeding 12 months, the owner of the vehicle shall within a period as prescribed by the central government apply to the new registering authority.

He said the central government can prescribe the period and form in which the vehicle is required to be registered.

“In the event the impugned circular is given effect, it will frustrate the object of Section 47 of MVA which is sought to be implemented by the RTO Kashmir,” he said.

D C Raina, the Advocate General of J&K questioned the maintainability of the writ petition on the ground that no cause of action has accrued to the petitioner with reference to violation of any of his rights qua the action taken by the respondents.

The court observed “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.”

The question as to who that competent authority is, needs to be ascertained, advised the court.

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