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J&K High Court quashes RTO Kashmir’s ‘re-registration of vehicles’ order

“Now car owners with outside registration number can drive their vehicles in Jammu and Kashmir or in any other State. There is no need to re-register or pay any token tax,” Advocate Zahoor Ahmad Bhat told the media.

SRINAGAR (J&K)

Jammu and Kashmir High Court today provided a big relief for car owners in the UT by quashing Regional Transport Office (RTO) Kashmir’s order which had made re-registration mandatory for vehicles bought from outside the UT.

Advocate Zahoor, who had filed the petition in the J&K High Court, said that the Division Bench of Justice Ali Muhammad Magray and Vinod Chatterji Koul quashed the order, which was issued by RTO Kashmir through a Circular.

“Now car owners with outside registration number can drive their vehicles in Jammu and Kashmir or in any other State. There is no need to re-register or pay any token tax,” Advocate Zahoor Ahmad Bhat told the media.

The Division Bench ordered that the lifetime tax, which is imposed at the point of registration of a vehicle under Section 3 of the Motor Vehicles Act, cannot be levied on a vehicle registered solely on the basis that a vehicle registered outside the Union Territory of J&K has been in the Union Territory of J&K for more than 12 months.

The impugned circular, to the degree that it asks petitioners (car owners) to have their vehicles registered for issuance of new registration marks without their declaration in accordance with Rule 54 of the Central Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989, and without having any procedure, is quashed, according to the Bench.

The Division Bench in its verdict said, “We have already noticed the scheme of law, which provides for assignment of new registration mark but deem it proper to reiterate that if the vehicle once registered in any State in India, it shall not be required to be registered elsewhere in India, but when the Motor Vehicle, registered in one State, has been kept in another State for a period of exceeding 12 months, the owner shall apply to the Registering Authority within whose jurisdiction the vehicle is for the assignment of new registration mark, this is as provided under Sections 46 and 47 of the Motor Vehicles Act.”

“Therefore, a life time tax that is levied at the point of registration of a vehicle in terms of Section 3 of the Motor Vehicles Act, cannot be levied on a vehicle registered, merely on a presumption that a vehicle registered outside Union Territory of JK, has remained in the Union Territory of J&K for a period exceeding 12 months,” the Bench observed.

Earlier, the court had reserved its judgement on the controversial Circular after hearing the writ petitions filed by one Zahoor Ahmad Bhat and Irshad Hussain Munshi, challenging the authority of the Regional Transport Officer, Kashmir.

The main argument raised in the petitions was that only Central Government is a competent authority under the Motor Vehicles Act to regulate registration of vehicles.

It is in place to mention that the LG administration had issued a Circular last month, requiring all vehicles with outside registration numbers to be re-registered with the relevant RTO offices.

The directive caused hardship and panic for those who had purchased vehicles from other States. Also, the Circular had major impact on the automobile industry in Jammu and Kashmir, which was badly hit.

Meanwhile, outside registration number car owners hailed the high court decision, by calling the high court ruling as a huge relief.

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