State of M.P v Rakesh Sethi
CIVIL APPEAL NO. 7074 OF 2008, decided on August 26, 2020
Bench: L. Nageswara Rao and S. Ravindra Bhat, JJ.
The petitioner had approached the High Court, contending that the said rule was ultra vires the state’s power under the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 (hereafter “the Act”), and the Central Motor Vehicle Rules, 1989 (hereafter “the Central Rules”). The High Court accepted his contentions and quashed Rule 55A of the Motor Vehicles Rules, 1994 (hereafter “the State Rules”) framed by the Madhya Pradesh State (hereafter “the state”).
Whether Rule 55A of the State Rules was ultra vires the provisions of the Act?
[Note: Rule 55A empowers the registering authority to assign a specific registration mark, on demand to the concerned person]
The Supreme Court setting aside the impugned judgment and allowing the appeal said that the assignment of “distinctive marks” i.e. registration numbers to motor vehicles (which includes the power to reserve and allocate them, for a specific fee) is a distinct service for which states or their authorities (such as the registering authorities, in this case) are entitled to charge a prescribed fee. Rule 55A of the MP Rules is not therefore, in excess of the powers conferred upon the state, by the Act or the Central Rules.
The Supreme Court held that the reasoning of the High Court that the field of prescribing the fee for an application for registration has been exclusively conferred upon the Union Government, thus excluding from its sweep any State power to claim any manner of fee or amount as part of that task, is flawed. The Supreme Court said that the assignment of numbers by the registering authority, as seen earlier, through an official/agency or department notified by the State Government, cannot be seen as a mere step – albeit at the fag-end of the registration allotment process.
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