KERALA

Gunning for fancy numbers

S. Anil Radhakrishnan

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: There was a strong bid for the registration number AK-47 among rich businessmen owning brand new luxury cars in the city on Thursday.

The number was much sought after because of its association with the Russian assault rifle commonly used by terrorist and militant outfits across the world.

The fierce competition among new car owners for KL-01 AK-1 and KL-01 AK-47 forced the Motor Vehicles Department to conduct an open auction at the Regional Transport Office (RTO), at the Transport Bhavan here.

The highest bid was for KL-01 AK-1, which was sold to Balagopal for Rs.3.05 lakhs. The bidder was a distributor of pharmaceutical products in the city, who recently purchased a new Mercedes Benz.

The number KL-01 AK-47 was bought for Rs. 2.9 lakhs by Alex Thomas, a builder in the city. The number is for his new Toyoto Camry. The auction was conducted by Regional Transport Officer E.A. Babu. Many members of the capital's business community participated in the auction.

However, the number KL-01 AK-5 went for Rs.2,300, surprising the officials who conducted the auction. There were only two bidders for the number.

Similar competitive bidding took place in 1999 for the number KL-01 P-7000 which was sold to V. Sunil Kumar for Rs.1.5 lakhs. He had beaten film star Suresh Gopi for the number. The opening amount for the auction in 1999 was Rs.1,500. Now, the opening amount for fancy numbers is Rs.2000.

As per Section 39 and 47 of the Motor Vehicles Act, the State Transport Commissioner can reserve up to 100 fancy numbers for auction. The bidding for the numbers is conducted only when more than one person apply.

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