A Hyundai Xcent owner in India was just fined Rs. 500 for not wearing a helmet. If this wasn’t bad enough, the Xcent owner was shocked when he found out that his car’s number plate was being used by a Honda Activa automatic scooter. Upon complaining to the Mumbai police about this grave discrepancy, the car owner got no relief and was also asked to pay up an additional Rs. 200 fine for parking the vehicle on the zebra crossing at a traffic signal.
Navneet Bharadwaj, the owner of the Hyundai Xcent had this to say to Mid-Day about his ordeal,
I am Punjabi Brahmin (wearing a turban) and do not own any bike or scooter. I only own a car that I use for my personal use. When I checked with a few traffic police officers, they said that the fine had been imposed for some traffic violations in the Bandra area. I had, however, never visited Bandra in the period they mentioned. I was further shocked to see pictures of a bike with the same registration number as that of my car’s. I even showed them (Andheri traffic police) the e-challan images of the bike which had violated the rules but no one helped me. If vehicles with similar registration numbers are in the city, how am I at fault. The one who violates laws should be punished. This is a lapse on the part of the traffic department that inconveniences innocent people like me.
Over the past couple of years, there have been multiple instances of cars and two wheelers running fake numbers plates in various parts of India. In fact, there have been multiple cases of cars of the same brand, and of the same colour, running fake number plates. This makes it extremely difficult for cops to identify the genuine owner of a car, especially when a crime is committed. Often, vehicles running fake number plates are used for committing various crimes, and in such cases, vehicle owners totally unconnected with the crime are harassed just because their genuine vehicle registration numbers happened to be faked by criminals.
Meanwhile, the Bombay high court has delivered a judgment on a fake numberplate case. The court ruled that ‘Running An Unregistered Vehicle With Another Vehicle’s Registered Number Is Neither Cheating Nor Forgery’, and that it could only be treated as a traffic offence. In the said case, a Nissan Sunny owner was found guilty using an old number plate of one of his previous car on the unregistered Sunny sedan which was procured from the customs department. The court ruled that the owner was not guilty of forgery and cheating, and was only required to pay the traffic fine of Rs. 5,000 (under section 163 of the motor vehicle act applicable for driving/riding a vehicle without registration). The court arrived at this judgment by noting that forgery could be only applied to those cases where a forged document has been created with an intention of cheating/fraud, or to commit a crime.