Vidya Venkat

Ministry of Road Transport and Highways revises Motor Vehicles Act

CHENNAI: It started as an attempt by the Social Welfare Department to get licences for the modified three-wheel motorcycles handed over to the disabled.

But now the Ministry of Shipping, Road Transport and Highways has revised the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, dropping the ban imposed on alteration of motor vehicles. The decision allows persons with disabilities to get their altered motorcycles licensed by regional authorities.

As per Section 2 (18) of the Act, an “invalid carriage” is a motor vehicle specially designed and constructed for use by persons with disabilities. But such carriages are not made by Indian companies, as their commercial viability is low. Following the 2000 ban, Regional Transport Offices stopped issuing licences to motor vehicles modified for the use of the disabled.

As per the new resolution of the Ministry, gazetted in July, retrofitted vehicles should not be categorised as invalid carriages. It gives permission to disabled persons to be registered as owner of altered motorcycles. The order requires persons with disabilities to get a medical fitness certificate from the competent medical authority and undergo a driving test to obtain permission from the Licensing Authority to drive the altered vehicle.

However, altered cars have not been brought under the ambit of the new order.

G. Devadoss, who has been using an auto-gear Maruti Zen car for the past four years, was disappointed.

He said he did not have a driving licence, though doctors had certified him as being fit to drive a modified car. To get his vehicle alteration validated, RTO officials asked him to approach the manufacturer in Noida. “It is difficult to get it done, and so I am unable to take my car out ,” he said.

“Having a private vehicle offers orthopedically disabled persons a greater degree of freedom in transport. Given that most public transport facilities do not reckon their specific needs, the government should instruct vehicle manufacturers to build modified vehicles to suit the needs of the disabled,” argued K. Gopinath, member of the Tamil Nadu Welfare Board for the Disabled.

Transport Commissioner C.P. Singh told The Hindu that based on the new order, the department would shortly issue a circular, containing details of how persons with disabilities could get their altered vehicles registered.