Rain and the curious case of missing number plates

When rainwater flooded the streets in the heavy downpour last week, Motor Vehicles Department (MVD) officials in the district encountered a curious problem. It held their attention when they came across far too many vehicles with either their number plates missing altogether or numbers missing. This prompted the Ernakulam Regional Transport Office to embark on a drive against such vehicles.


In the drive held on Sunday, ten vehicles were found with various irregularities regarding number plates and their owners were asked to produce the vehicles with the number plates properly restored, besides paying the fine.

“It emerged that many motorists didn’t even bother to fix number plates properly and they could be easily removed with bare hands without the help of any tool. There were also instances in which registration numbers were found printed in stickers or were simply inserted into plastic frames, making them likely to be washed away easily when a vehicle wades through waterlogged roads,” Motor Vehicle Inspector C.D Arun, who carried out the drive, told The Hindu.

Besides getting easily washed away, such improperly affixed number plates leave room for their easy manipulation by elements involved in nefarious activities. Irregularities regarding number plates attract fine ranging between ₹2,000 and ₹5,000 depending on the class of vehicles.

In such cases, the MVD acts on two counts. In some cases, Section 39 of the Central Motor Vehicles Act is invoked for not displaying the registration number in the prescribed manner in which case a fine of up to ₹2,000 is charged. A far more lenient ₹100 is charged in cases where number plates are found used in violation of Rule 50 of the Central Motor Vehicles Rules.

Another headache

Fancy number plates in violation of norms have consistently posed MVD officials headache over a long period despite there being strictly laid-down norms and specifications.

According to rules, two and three-wheelers should have 200 x 100 mm number plates, while it is 340 x 200 mm / 500 x 120 mm for light motor vehicles or passenger cars.

Besides, there are specifications with regard to height, thickness, and even the spacing between letters on the plate.

Moreover, if the registration number is written in two lines, it is mandatory that only State and office codes (KL and 07 in the case of Ernakulam) should be in the first line, and the remaining part of the number should be in the second line. But this is observed more in the breach.

Private vehicles should have their number plates with the registration number written in black letters on white background, while for taxis, the number should be in black letters on yellow background.

Deliberate attempts

Mr. Arun said that there are also instances in which the view of the number plate is deliberately blocked using grills or other vehicle parts to prevent tracing the vehicle in the event of a law violation.

“The manipulation is mostly found in the rear number plate since surveillance cameras mostly capture its image,” he said.

The only solution to the problem seems to be the proposed high-security number plates.

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Printable version | May 13, 2021 3:33:47 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/rain-and-the-curious-case-of-missing-number-plates/article24498555.ece

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