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Court comes to the rescue of polio-affected lawyer

Mohamed Imranullah S.
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Stay's RTO order refusing to register a modified car

Tailor-made: Advocate M. Ponniah in his modified car in Madurai. Photo: S. James
Tailor-made: Advocate M. Ponniah in his modified car in Madurai. Photo: S. James

The Madras High Court Bench here has come to the rescue of a polio-affected advocate, M. Ponniah (37), who was made to run from pillar to post to obtain a learner's licence for driving his car which was altered in such a way that the brake, clutch and accelerator could be operated with the left hand.

Admitting a writ petition filed by him on Friday, Justice K. Chandru stayed the proceedings of the Regional Transport Officer (RTO), Madurai North, dated November 3, 2010 refusing to re-register the car as an ‘Invalid Carriage' (a motor vehicle specially designed and constructed, and not merely adapted, for the use of a person suffering from physical defects).

The stay was granted on the basis of the submissions of petitioner's counsel G. Prabhu Rajadurai that way back in 2008 itself Justice P.K. Misra had held that there was no restriction on modifying a normal vehicle to suit a physically challenged person.

Similarly there was no prohibition for re-registering a vehicle as an ‘Invalid carriage' though it was registered otherwise initially.

It was pointed out that the petitioner had modified his car without changing the basic mechanism through a reputed automobile engineer in Kerala in 2007.

The engineer had modified more than 800 cars for the physically challenged and such vehicles were being used all over the country.

However, the RTO expressed his inability to re-register the vehicle and hence the petitioner sent a representation to the President along with video clippings of his driving skills.

The representation was forwarded to the State Transport Commissioner who in turn asked the petitioner to approach the RTO once again.

Even after that, the petitioner could not get any relief despite approaching the RTO on several occasions.

He also filed a writ petition and obtained an order to consider his representation.

Thereafter, a contempt of court application was also filed and at last, the RTO issued the November 3 proceedings refusing to re-register the vehicle.

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