Rashid Paul

HC directs Secy Transport, RTO to explain what necessitated issuance of such circular

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Hearing petition on controversial circular on re-registration of non-J&K registered vehicles…

Srinagar: The J&K High Court on Thursday directed the Secretary Transport to remain present before the court in connection with the circular that directs residents of J&K to re-register their vehicles bought and brought from outside the union territory.

Hearing a petition on the controversial circular calling for re-registration of vehicles with non-J&K registrations within 15 days here, the court today directed the Secretary Transport, J&K government, to appear before the court tomorrow, the 22nd of April.

The Regional Transport Officer (RTO) Kashmir, who had been directed to present himself before the court, attended the court along with some documents on the contentious circular.

The RTO had issued the circular dated 27th of March 2021, asking the owners of the vehicles bought and brought here from outside of J&K, to submit the relevant documents for re-registration of these vehicles to RTO’s office within 15 days or face action.

The officer today submitted before the court that the decision to notify the impugned circular was taken in a meeting convened by the Secretary to the Government, Transport Department.

He said the circular was meant to “ensure screening of the vehicles which bear the non-local registration”.

Upon being pointedly asked by the two judge bench as to whether any exercise is undertaken to meet the requirements of Section 46, 47 and 50 of the Motor Vehicles Act (MVA) by the Transport Department, the RTO replied “I have no records to that effect”.

Since the officer was not in a position to satisfactorily demonstrate the origin of the impugned circular and his authority to issue it, the court ordered him to “again present himself before the court along with relevant records and affidavit tomorrow indicating therein as to what necessitated the issuance of the circular.”

Pendency of the petitions on the matter, according to the court, shall not form any impediment for the transport authorities to screen the vehicles with non-local registration mark for checking their veracity.

The screening, according to the court has to be “vis-a-vis the documents and the bonafide entry of such vehicles into the union territory of J&K.”

Such exercise, however, shall be undertaken by the officials of the Transport department only, directed the court.

The bench had in its earlier hearing issued notice to the concerned officers of the J&K administration on the circular that has led to a spree of seizure by police of vehicles purchased by the residents here from outside of J&K.

The bench had observed that the appearance of the Advocate General of J&K in the matter shall take care of the apprehension vis-à-vis seizure of the vehicles at the hands of the police under the garb of the impugned circular.

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