ANDHRA PRADESH

RTA officials seize modified jeep

HYDERABAD, MARCH 24. "Parental advisory, explicit content." That's the sticker on this massive fluorescent green sports jeep parked in one corner of the RTA office at Khairtabad. Such are the modifications made to the four-seater that even a car manufacturer would be baffled as to what make the vehicle is, unless one has a look at the engine.

But then, do you know that it is a crime to modify your car according to your taste? For those who do not know, this recently seized vehicle, which looks like a Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV) can be an eye-opener.

Violation of law

And guess who was behind the wheel? A student, and according to sources, son of a city legislator. The youngster reportedly does not even have a driving licence. However, RTA officials refuse to disclose his name and simply refer to him as a VIP.

Another interesting fact is K. Sudakhar of Sudha cars, known for his penchant for making different varieties of cars, modified the jeep. "He will soon be prosecuted as the vehicle is in his name," RTA officials said. Though the vehicle was remade for the MLA's son, it is yet to be transferred on to his name.

Another Maruti Gypsy, seized by the RTA, was modified to have a military look, with camouflage upholstery and painted olive green. The law says only the Army can use this design and colour. Yet another vehicle, a Maruti 800 converted into an open-top sports car, was also seized.

The RTA has decided to cancel the registrations of the seized four-wheelers and `do away' with them as scrap.

Flashy look

"Such cars can only be permitted as exhibits during a vintage rally or any other occasion. They are not meant to be driven on the roads, which is dangerous for the driver as well as other road users," officials argue. The car owners reportedly spent around Rs. 3 lakh just on the modifications. According to Section 52 of the Motor Vehicle Act, owners cannot alter the vehicle in such a way that the particulars in the certificate of registration vary with those specified by the manufacturers. "Many people are not aware of this law. They spend huge amounts and modify their cars to give it a flashy look," the officials say.

"The centre of gravity of the vehicles changes drastically, making it unstable. This is not only risky for the person driving it, but also for others on the road. The vehicle cannot be controlled in case of an accident," explains Sudhir Shah, the General Manager of Mahindra and Mahindra.

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