The decision to introduce high security number plates for vehicles has been stuck in a legal tangle for more than a decade, leaving criminals with enough room to tamper with registration numbers.
Rule 50 of the Central Motor Vehicle Rules was amended mandating the introduction of high security number plates for new as well as old vehicles.
Transport Commissioner Rishi Raj Singh said the proposed high security numbers could be introduced only after a case between two companies in this regard in the Supreme Court was resolved.
To make matters worse, the normal number plates in which black letters are painted on white surface are increasingly being replaced by stickers, making switching to fake numbers all too easy.
A senior Motor Vehicle Department official said that while the Motor Vehicle Rules specify the manner in which the registration number should be displayed - including its dimension, size, thickness, width, and height – it neither mandates the use of painted number plates alone nor bans the use of stickers.
“Anyway, manipulating a painted number plate is not hard. It is possible with a single stroke of brush without even removing the plate,” the official said.
Besides, the Motor Vehicle Department hardly has any mechanism to inspect the number plates of private vehicles once they are registered unlike transport vehicles, which will have to be produced again for periodic fitness certificate after registration.
Though the registration number is generated on the same day on which the vehicle is registered, private vehicle owners affix the number plate that catch their fancy a day or two later. “In the case of private vehicles, the violation of Central Motor Vehicle Rules with regard to display of registration numbers comes to light only during routine vehicle checks,” the official said.
The proposed high security number plate, he said, was the only solution to all these problems. Its unique features make tampering highly risky and detectable. The chromium hologram-based number plate will have a retro-reflective film bearing a verification inscription ‘India’ at 45-degree inclination. The alpha-numeric laser numbering helps identification of both testing agencies and the manufacturers. The registration numbers will be embossed on the plate.
The rear registration plate will be fitted with a non-reusable snap lock that will be tamper-proof. A chromium-based third registration sticker will be attached to the windshield specifying the number of engine and chassis along with the name of registering authority. Any attempt to tamper with it will lead to its self-destruction. The front and rear registration plates will be hot stamped with the letter IND in blue colour.
Meanwhile, the MVD has started cracking the whip on vehicle owners not complying with the specifications for the display of registration numbers as per Rule 50 and 51 of the Central Motor Vehicles. Customised number plates bearing registration numbers in different fonts and styles are all too common on roads. “We are registering more than 300 cases daily in this regard across the State. All illegal number plates will be removed in next two months,” Mr. Singh said.