Car Modifications Are Now Illegal In India — But What Mods Are Legal?

The Supreme Court, on Wednesday, ordered that no motor vehicle can be modified in India, if it involves a change in the original specification as on the registration certificate. The rule which was feared by both professional and sub-standard car/bike modders across India has just come in action!

Images are for representational purposes only and not indicating an example

The SC referred to an updated provision of the Indian Motor Vehicles Act which stated that no vehicle can be altered in such a way that the data on the certificate of registration does not match with the current state of the vehicle.

Car Modifications In India Illegal

The apex court also shared that the above-mentioned provision was amended "with the purpose to prohibit alteration of vehicles in any manner including change of tyres of higher capacity, keeping in view road safety and protection of the environment".

The order was passed by a bench of Justices involving Arun Mishra and Vineet Saran. "No vehicle can be altered so as to change 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 bench commented.

Car Modifications In India Illegal

To put in simple terms, no vehicle can be altered 'structurally' such that its basic feature is changed. A good example of this is the once-popular 'limo modification' trend in India. Though not that common today, many charges were made in the past years against owners who deliberately modified their cars (sedan and SUVs alike) to stretched-out 'wannabe-limousines'.

The SC had also set aside a previous judgement made by the division bench of the Kerala High Court. It said that structural alterations are permissible as per the provisions of the Kerala Motor Vehicle Rules, 1989.

Now comes the most important question — what all kind of modifications are legal?

As far the verdict states, only 'structural changes' are illegal, and that too, if it diminishes the basic purpose of a vehicle. Converting hatchbacks to pickup trucks (yes, people actually do that!), sedans/SUVs to limousines, two-wheelers to three-wheelers, mini-trucks to tippers, etc.; are now illegal.

Car Modifications In India Illegal

Hence, popular modifications such as 'RTO-approved paint changes', wraps, body graphics, subtle cosmetic kits and small-scale performance enhancements are still possible. But, putting excessively-large wheels or lowering the car to absurdity could be questioned.

In our opinion, this is definitely a welcome change and should've been implemented way before. There are many so-called 'modders' functioning across India who make weird changes to cars or bikes in an effort to make it attractive to a certain category of people. These acts are also plaguing the entire 'proper or tasteful' car enthusiast community in India.

Hopefully, the new Supreme Court verdict will put an end to this.

Thoughts On Supreme Court Making Car/Bike Modifications In India Illegal

Modification of a vehicle is definitely an art; but only if it is done properly. Good technical knowledge and work experience have to be there to improve a vehicle's aesthetics, performance and comfort, without affecting the safety offered in its original format. India has a good portfolio of such tuning shops and the latest Supreme Court verdict would help them stand apart from the rest.

Images: 360 Motoring

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Article Published On: Thursday, January 10, 2019, 13:03 [IST]

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