Own a modified car/bike? You can be jailed for up to 6 months

If you are thinking to customize your car or motorcycle with any cosmetic or mechanical modification, you should be aware of the possibilities and consequences of doing so. The growing influence of after-market automobile modifiers among new generation buyers has once again fueled the debate between vehicle owners and government authorities. However, before planning to attempt any modification to your car or motorcycle, you should keep the Supreme Court judgement made back in 2019 regarding this matter.

Own a modified car/bike? You can be jailed for up to 6 months

As per the judgement made by Justice Arun Mishra and Justice Vineet Saran in the Supreme Court, no modifications should be made to a vehicle that is different from the original specifications recommended by the manufacturer of that vehicle. This judgement goes in sync with Section 52 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, which states that no such modifications are allowed that alter the information of the vehicle mentioned in the registration certificate. It means that the basic structure and modifications to the mechanical components such as engine, exhaust, bigger alloy wheels, louder horns, wider tyres, etc. are illegal in the books of law.

However, if a person wishes to carry out alterations such as operation by a different type of fuel (such as installing a CNG kit), he should comply with the various exemptions ruled by the Central Government, which requires a bit of a hassle and groundwork.

Permission from RTO

Own a modified car/bike? You can be jailed for up to 6 months

Apart from other fuel options, certain changes can be done to your vehicle if they do not alter the original specifications by the manufacturer, such as changing the colour of your car, minor add-ons like rain visors and bumper corner protectors, upsizing of tyres and wheels for a lower variant to those of upper variant of a vehicle within the limits prescribed by the carmaker and engine swapping, the last one of which requires prior permission from the RTO. If any of the rule mentioned above is violated, the vehicle owner is bound to pay a fine of Rs 5,000 per alteration or imprisonment for up to six months.

No, such structural changes are not legal in India. The supreme court of India and the Motor Vehicle Act ban any such modifications to operate on public roads. Such vehicles can be project cars for many and one can use them on private properties like a racing track or at a farmhouse. However, the police may seize them from the public roads.

In India modification is not allowed and even aftermarket accessories like the bullbar and other structural changes are banned too. In fact, tyres that are too big for a vehicle are banned too. Such vehicles sure do attract a lot of attention on the roads but since they are made at local garages without proper welding equipment, they can be dangerous.

If a vehicle disintegrates while going on a road, it can become a cause of a serious accident. The police of different states set up check-points to keep an eye on such modifications and also issue challans.