The Punjab & Haryana High Court came down heavily on a Punjab RTO inspector who refused to register a multi-coloured Hindustan Ambassador in Chandigarh because it was well, ‘multi-coloured’ while its original colour was white. The high court judge ruled that cars that are multi-coloured are legal and can be registered in by the RTO so long as the base colour of the car remains the same.
In case of this particular Hindustan Ambassador, which has artwork on it by renowned Mexican artist Senkoe, the base colour is white and it’s clear that other colours on the car have been painted on by the artist.
The judge further directed the Chandigarh administration to proceed with the registration of the multi-coloured Hindustan Ambassador, and said that the petitioner – Advocate Ranjit Malhotra – must not be harassed further.
Here’s what Justice Jaishree Thakur had to say in her judgment that allowed the petitioner to register the multi-coloured Hindustan Ambassador,
The reason for denying registration merely on the ground that there is art work done on the body of the vehicle, where the base remains white, defies logic. Any reasonable person can easily make out that a white car had some art work done upon it. Like a canvas with a spray of flowers. The base colour of the canvas would remain as it is. The inspector has acted in an arbitrary and wholly whimsical manner, causing undue harassment to the petitioner. The only reason assigned for declining to register, is change in colour of vehicle as per original registration from ‘White’ to ‘Multicolour’, while also submitting that the petitioner had filled in a wrong detail while mentioning the colour of the car as white. No doubt the art work done upon it is colourful, but has it changed the basic structure of the car or has the vehicle been altered in any manner which is not permitted by virtue of Section 52 of the Act? The answer is in the negative.
In other words, as long as the base colour of the car is visible, adding paintwork to the car’s body is not illegal as per the latest High Court judgment. Since it’s a High Court judgment, it becomes the law across the country until the judgment is overturned by a bigger bench of a high c0urt in India, or by the Supreme Court.
The judge also noted that colourful paint jobs (while retaining the base colour of the vehicle), stickers and slogans on vehicles cannot be considered as ‘changing the basic structure of the vehicle’. This judgment opens up a range of possibilities for car wrappers, painters and artists, who can now add colours to the body of a car while retaining the base colour.