You saw a bike in the market and you loved the modification. Now, you also want to modify your bike with similar accessories. But is that so easy? Is it illegal to modify bikes in India? What are the vehicle modification rules in India? Can I be jailed for modifying my bike?
Automobile lovers are crazy about getting their vehicles upgraded and modified. Obviously, we’ll feel good when our vehicle gets the attention of crowds. But, is this attention so easy to get? Surely not.
Is Bike Or Car Modification Banned In India?
Modifying a vehicle is prohibited in India. Only minor modifications are allowed and those even with the permission of the Regional Transport Officer. In order to make those minor modifications legal, you must get new modified parts approved by the ARAI (Automotive Research Authority of India) and get an endorsed registration certificate.
The Motor Vehicle Act restricts the modification of vehicles in India. As per the Act, it is illegal to modify structure or colour of a vehicle. Altering the structure reduces the strength of the vehicle and it can cause serious injuries to the occupants or riders during an accident.
Why Vehicle Modifications Are Banned In India?
It is said that degradation or modification results in a change in the strength of the vehicle. Driving such a vehicle, where its strength has been changed, can be dangerous on the road. It can cause injuries to the owner and can also put the lives of other people at risk.
Another reason behind these restrictions is the difficulty for the police to trace down a vehicle. A person found violating the rules can be fined up to Rs 5,000 and can also be jailed upto 6 months.
Supreme Court Guidelines On Vehicle Modification Rules
In 2019, the Supreme Court gave a landmark judgment restricting vehicle modifications. The bench comprising Justice Arun Mishra and Vineet Saran set aside the Kerala High Court order in Regional Transport Officer vs. K. Jayachandra case wherein the High Court had held that structural alteration is permissible under Kerala Rules.
The two-judge bench held, “No vehicle can be altered so as to change the original specification made by the manufacturer. Such particulars cannot be altered which have been specified by the manufacturer for the purpose of entry in the certificate of registration.”
“The alteration under the Rules is permissible except as prohibited by section 52. The specification of the rules would hold good with respect to the matters as not specifically covered under section 52(1) and not specified therein by manufacturer. The emphasis of section 52(1) is not to vary the “original specifications by the manufacturer”. Remaining particulars in a certificate of registration can be modified and changed and can be noted in the certificate of registration as provided in Section 52(2), (3) and (5) and the Rules. Under section 52(5), in case a person is holding a vehicle on a hire purchase agreement, he shall not make any alteration except with the written consent of the original owner,” the bench had stated.
The bench had added, “In our considered opinion the Division Bench in the impugned judgment of the High Court of Kerala has failed to give effect to the provisions contained in section 52(1) and has emphasized only on the Rules. As such, the decision rendered by the Division Bench cannot be said to be laying down the law correctly. The Rules are subservient to the provisions of the Act and particulars in certificate of registration can also be changed except to the extent of the entries made in the same as per the specifications originally made by the manufacturer. Circular No.7/2006 is also to be read in that spirit. Authorities should act accordingly.”
What Type of Bike Modifications Are Legal In India?
Minor adjustments or modifications like engine belly, tail tidy, decals, visors, winglets, etc are allowed. Because such modifications do not necessarily change the specifications and are hence permissible.
Modification in tires can be allowed. But only when you equip your bike with tires that match the ones on the top-spec variant. Tires that do not fit the model are a risk and illegal.
In case your vehicle’s engine is no longer functioning correctly, you can change the current engine of your bike. In order to change the engine, you have to obtain a No Objection Certificate from the RTO. In addition to that, after changing the engine, you have to apply for re-registration. As per a condition under the rules, both old and new engines should run on the same fuel.
It is mandatory to obtain permission for colour changes. You can get permission to change the colour of your bike or car from the RTO.
What Is The Procedure To Take Permission From RTO To Modify A Bike Or Car?
As we read above, there are minor modifications that you can have in your vehicle. But these minor modifications will also be illegal if you are doing them without the permission of the RTO. You have to obtain a No Objection Certificate(RTO). And your task doesn’t end with getting a NOC, you still have to visit the RTO office. Here are the steps to get RTO approval to change your bike’s colour or for other modifications.
- Go to the RTO office where you’ve registered your bike previously.
- Take the sample and the price colour code along with the RC book to the RTO office.
- Fill Form (BT) & (BTI).
- In Form BTI [See Rule 57 (I)] and mention your colour and why you want to change colour.
- Get a letter of approval from the RTO authority for the colour change.
- Go to an authorized workshop and paint your bike in the same colour for which you get approval from RTO.
- Take your vehicle to the RTO again and previously acquired approval letter to the RTO office.
- RTO will make the changes in your RC book as per the modifications.
- You have to pay the required fee and there you go with the modification that you wanted in your vehicle.
Can I Get My Bike Registered If I Have Already Modified My Bike Or Car?
The answer might not be in your favour as you are required to get permission before going for modification. In such cases, if your vehicle is modified illegally, it can be impounded.
This article is written by Varsha. You can reach out to the author via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.