Motor Vehicles Act and Rules

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This is a collection of articles archived for the excellence of their content.


Motor Vehicles Act, 1988

Motor Vehicles Act, compensation, unborn child

The Times of India, Aug 26, 2011

Dhananjay Mahapatra TNN

1.8L payout for death of fetus in road accident

The Supreme Court has awarded Rs 1.80 lakh as compensation under Motor Vehicles Act to Kusuma, who lost her unborn baby when her car collided with a bus. The task of a bench comprising Justice D K Jain and R M Lodha was made easier by the National Insurance Company, which didn’t challeng before the tribunal or high court Kusuma’s stand that an unborn child should be counted as a living being while claiming compensation.

Insurance co challenged only quantum of relief

The Supreme Court on rejected National Insurance Company’s appeal against the high court order that awarded compensation to a woman who lost her unborn child in an accident with a state transport bus.

The bench at the time of entertaining the appeal had found the question—can a fetus be considered a child for the purpose of compensation — important and appointed senior advocate U U Lalit as amicus curiae. It realized that the insurance company had not questioned the correctness of the award made by the tribunal, determining the amount of compensation “towards the loss of unborn child”. It had only challenged the quantum.

“The appellant company is now stopped from contending that an unborn child cannot be considered to be a child for the purpose of claiming compensation under Section 166 of the MV Act,” Justice Jain, writing the judgment said. “It is manifest from the judgment under challenge that the question for consideration before the HC in the claimant’s appeal was with regard to the quantum of compensation and not entitlement of claim for grievous injury to a 30-week-old child in uterus resulting in the birth of a stillborn child,” the SC said, upholding award of Rs 1.8 lakh to the woman.

2019: amended Motor Vehicles Act

Fines payable on the spot/ in a court

Dipak K Dash, Sep 5, 2019: The Times of India

2019: important amendments to the Motor Vehicles Act
From: Dipak K Dash,Sep 5, 2019: The Times of India

Traffic fines you can pay on spot and ones that need court visit

NEW DELHI: As states buy time to notify the 63 sections of the amended Motor Vehicles Act, there is confusion among motorists whether they have to go to court to pay fines for all traffic violations. 

To bring clarity, TOI highlights the common offences that can be compounded by paying a fine on the spot to designated officials, and also those that require a visit to the court after a challan is issued. At the moment, all violators need to go to court to pay fines as most states have not notified the norms. 


Section 200 of the Act lays down the offences for which a spot fine is allowed, which means the driver needn’t visit court. The violator can pay the fine to the designated official after the respective state governments notify such officers. 

Moreover, the section provides the timing of compounding of offences — before the institution of prosecution and also after institution of prosecution. The Act says offences under 24 categories can be compounded at any stage. For these, the respective state government can notify its own quantum of fine and other penalties. 


Rest of the offences under the MV Act are non-compoundable, which means that in all such cases, the violator has to visit court to pay challan. In this case, the state government can’t fix a penalty that’s less than the minimum amount notified by Centre . 

2: Rules

Central Motor Vehicle Rules, 1989

Rules on beacons/ red, blue lights

2014: Tamil Nadu list of entitled persons

November 16, 2014: The Hindu

List of dignitaries who can use red, blue beacons

The State government has come up with a list of dignitaries who can use red and blue beacon lights on top front of the vehicles.

The Supreme Court on December 2013had directed the State governments and UTs to regulate the use of red beacon lights in vehicles carrying high dignitaries and use of lights of other colours on vehicles used by men in uniform, operational agencies and vehicles engaged in emergency duties.

In October 27 this year, the Transport Commissioner sent a proposal to the government which approved it and issued an order on Saturday.

Hereafter, only the vehicles carrying the Governor, Chief Minister, Chief Justice of the High Court, Assembly Speaker, Ministers and Judges of the High Court would be permitted to use red light with flasher as top light.

Vehicles carrying Chief Secretary, Deputy Speaker, Chairmen of advisory boards and commissions like Human Rights, Minorities, Public Service, Law; State Election Commissioner, Advocate General could use red light but without flasher as top light.

The vehicles carrying top police in the rank of DGP, ADGP, IG, DIG, SP, Commissioner, Additional Commissioner, DC and AC, ASP, DSP could use blue light with flasher as top light.

Vehicles carrying officials like government secretaries, department heads, district collectors, municipal chairmen and commissioners, district judges who require unhindered access to the roads for performing their duties can use blue light with flasher as top light, the order states.

2017: Government of India’s restrictions

Dipak Dash, Govt notifies beacon ban, May 2, 2017: The Times of India

 The government on Monday notified a ban on using all types of beacons by any vehicle except those used by police, fire department, ambulances, military and paramilitary forces when they are on active emergency duty .These vehicles covered under “active“ emergency and disaster management duties will have multi-coloured (red, blue and white) beacons like the ones used by PCR vans.

Each state will have to publish the list of exempted vehicles every year for public information. “The state transport departments will issue special stickers for such vehicles for identification,“ a government official said.

As per the notification, vehicles used in ports, mining areas and airports will be allowed to use “ambers“ (yellow beacons).Such vehicles will be allowed to ply only within the operation zones.

Sources said there were suggestions that officials such as collectors or deputy commissioners and sub-divisional magistrates be allowed to keep the beacons since in many cases they are early responders to any crisis, but the Centre did not accept this.

“Now it will be impossible for anyone to misuse the beacons, which had actually become a menace. People can single them out for violations.We are also increasing the penalties for any such violation,“ Union transport minister Nitin Gadkari had told TOI the day government had announced ban of all types of beacons by dignitaries.

Red lights (beacons) on the cars of Honourable Judges

Allahabad High Court judgement

Katju’s 20-year-old judgment leaves SC red-faced

By Dhananjay Mahapatra, TNN , Apr 7, 2013

The Times of India

The HC judgment, which was co-authored by Justice Markandey Katju, had gone to great lengths in justifying how high court judges as constitutional post-holders were dignitaries, who could not be removed even by the appointing authority and that their official cars should not be stopped by traffic police.

NEW DELHI: A 20-year-old Allahabad high court judgment left the Supreme Court bench of Justices G S Singhvi and Kurian Joseph red- faced before it ordered the Centre and the states to take steps to limit list of dignitaries entitled to use red beacon with siren on official cars.

The HC Judgment, which was co-authored by Justice Markandey Katju, had gone to great lengths in justifying how high court Judges as constitutional post-holders were dignitaries, who could not be removed even by the appointing authority and that their official cars should not be stopped by traffic police.

The April 5, 1993 order of the HC, delivered by Justices D Chauhan and M Katju, had expressed horror at the temerity shown by two traffic constables in stopping the official cars of two other judges and contemptuously inquiring whether they were entitled to use red beacon at the top of their official vehicles.

The HC bench of Justices Chauhan and Katju graciously did not initiate contempt proceedings against the constables. But it issued a caution and an omnibus dictum to the UP government to inform all authorities not to impede or stop a Judge's car.

"It needs to be made clear that vehicles of any Honourable Judge cannot be detained or stopped except for a procession of a dead body passing through or electronic traffic signal otherwise on some other expediency of such nature the route may be diverted, if possible by advance intimation through the Registrar of the Court and in case of sudden emergent circumstance, by informing the driver of the Honourable Judge without exhibiting disrespectful conduct. While issuing notice of caution, we order accordingly," the HC had said.

It had said stopping of a Judge's car itself was an contemptuous act and even if some inquiry was to be made about the use of the car or about the driver, it must be "made through proper channel by approaching the Registrar of the High Court instead of having resort to detaining Honourable Judges, who were going to attend the court, whereby not only causing inconvenience, but lowering their dignity in public esteem".

While ruling in favour of the High Court Judges' entitlement of a red beacon despite nothing to that effect written in the Central Motor Vehicle Rules, 1989, Justices Chauhan and Katju had said, "The Honourable Judges of the High Court are entitled to the use of red light at the top of their vehicles (being constitutional appointees and functionaries enjoying the position of high dignitaries and distinction) even though there is no specification under the third clause to the proviso to Rule 108 of the 1989 Rules."

Asking government to fix signs on official car of a Judge prominently displaying "Judge Allahabad High Court" in both English and Hindi, the HC had issued a general mandamus to the state, its authorities and officers "not to create any impediment in the user of red light at the top of the vehicle by the Honourable Judges of the High Court and also for not causing any inconvenience an obstruction of any nature in any manner except as authorized under this order. All authorities and persons are mandated for complying with the order punctually."

The Supreme Court bench headed by Justice Singhi had one sarcastic line to add: "A judge becomes hourable by his judgments and not by using red beacon at the top of his official car." The bench also drew attention of senior advocate Harish Salve and Rakesh Dwivedi, who appeared for UP, to the title of the 20-year-old High Court case "Red Light on the cars of the Honourable Judges vs. State of UP."

Dwivedi had mentioned about this judgment saying unless it was stayed the state government would be in contempt. SC asked the states to ignore the order and proceed with possible amendments to the 1989 rules to limit red beacon use only to top constitutional authorities.

Responsibilities of drivers

2017 handbook

Dipak Dash, NEW NORMS - Listening to loud music while driving an offence, Sep 19, 2017: The Times of India

Do you ever drive at more than 25 kmph or more than the specified speed limit while passing by a school or a hospital or a construction site? Do you play loud music while driving or watch videos except for navigation? Do you skip stopping at pedestrian crossings or drive on footpath or do you use an air horn or multi-toned horn?

If yes, then be prepared to be pulled over by traffic cops and being slapped with a heavy fine. The road transport ministry has notified detailed regulations for drivers, which include dozens of dos and don'ts. Violation of these norms notified under the Rules of Road Regulations is an offence under the Motor Vehicle Act. Though the normal penalty is just Rs 100 as of now, traffic police can impose hig her fine and can even confiscate the licence if they find that such an act could pose danger to others on the road. The penalties will be more than fivefold once the Motor Vehicles Amendment Bill is passed.

This is the first time that the ministry has notified a comprehensive handbook for drivers about their responsi bilities, lane driving and the right of way . Keeping in mind the growing numbers of twowheelers, the regulations allow motorcyclists to pass between three and four-wheeled vehicles only when the speed difference between the motorcyclist and the other vehicles is less than 15 kmph and the maximum speed limit is 40 kmph. This means twowheelers should not change lanes on stretches where the speed is higher.


President’s, VP’s, Governors’ vehicles must have number-plates

Abhinav Garg, HC: Even Prez vehicle must have number, July 19, 2018: The Times of India

Vehicles carrying VVIPs in Delhi will now have to display their registration numberplates. The Delhi high court said that every vehicle, including those of top constitutional authorities, must be registered as per the Motor Vehicles Act and display the registration number.

A bench of acting chief justice Gita Mittal and justice C Hari Shankar said every vehicle in Delhi has to comply with the law. “There can be no doubt that every vehicle has to comport with the Motor Vehicles Act and has to be registered with a registering authority, and must display the registration number,” the bench noted, while disposing of an NGO’s plea, seeking to enforce the display of registration number on cars of constitutional authorities such as the President, the Vice President and other dignitaries.

The NGO said that a person meeting with an accident involving a car without a registration numberplate cannot bring any claim against it.

Vehicle permits

Valid from day of expiry even if renewed after a gap: HC

Oct 25, 2023: The Times of India

BENGALURU: Renewal of a vehicle permit is permissible under the Motor Vehicles Act and is sufficient to fix liability on the insurer, the Dharwad bench of the Karnataka high court observed in a recent order while dismissing an appeal filed by New India Assurance Company Limited.

The insurer sought absolution from its liability to pay a compensation of Rs 21,15,600 with 6% interest to the family members of PT Ramesh, who was killed in an MV accident on November 19, 2020, as the offending vehicle (a lorry) did not possess a valid and effective permit.

The permit had expired on April 18, 2020.Ramesh was returning home around 6.30pm on the fateful day from Hospete to Pothlakatte village on his new TVS Scooty when a speeding lorry, coming from the opposite direction, dashed against his vehicle and killed him.

On December 26, 2022, a tribunal directed the insurer of the lorry to pay compensation. Both the insurer and the family members filed separate appeals against the order.

However, after perusing the records, a division bench of the high court, comprising Justice SR Krishna Kumar and Justice G Basavaraja, noted that on December 1, 2020, the permit of the said lorry had been renewed for 5 years.

The bench further pointed out that Section 81(5) of the Motor Vehicles Act is a specific provision where the "doctrine of relating back" has been incorporated, thus contemplating that once an expired permit is renewed at a subsequent point in time, the validity would relate back to the date of expiry and its validity should be reckoned as having continued from the date of its expiry for all purposes.

"In light of Section 81(5) of the Motor Vehicles Act, it is sufficient to come to the conclusion that the said renewal on December 1, 2020 would relate back to the date of expiry, that is, April 18, 2020, and would continue to subsist for all purposes, including the liability of the insurance company to pay compensation, and the permit is deemed to subsist from April 2020 onwards for a period of 5 years," the bench said.

"Under these circumstances, we are of the considered opinion that the tribunal was fully justified in coming to the conclusion that the insurance company was liable to pay compensation," the bench observed, dismissing the insurer's appeal.

On the other hand, allowing the appeal filed by Ramesh's family members, the division bench ordered enhancement of the compensation to Rs 23,32,000, with interest at the rate of 6% per annum, by holding the man's notional income as Rs 13,750 a month for the accident year of 2020 as per Lok Adalat guidelines.

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