New Delhi: The road transport ministry is in the process of installing number plates in vehicles used by people who hold top constitutional posts such as the president, vice-president, governors and lieutenant governors after a non-profit group filed a petition in the Delhi High Court, saying the vehicles stood out without the number plates and could be easily identified as targets by terrorists.
The petitioner also said it would be difficult for people to trace the right owner and file for damages in case of an accident, and not showing the registration number as in any regular vehicle could be seen as disobeying the law by people in important posts.
In an affidavit before a bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar of the Delhi High Court, the road transport ministry said it has written to the authorities to get the vehicles registered.
“The offices of the President of India, Vice President, Governors and Lieutenant Governors in the country and Secretary (Ministry of External Affairs) have been asked vide letter dated January 2, 2018 to ensure that all the vehicles used by the President/President’s Secretariat, Vice President/Vice President’s Secretariat, Governor/ Lieutenant Governors/ or their officers/secretariat, Ministry of External Affairs be registered, if not done, and that they display registration mark as per the rules,” the ministry’s affidavit said.
Fourteen vehicles used by the foreign ministry for carrying state guests from other nations are being registered, the government’s counsel Rajesg Gogna told the court.
The vice-president secretariat has informed that “all the vehicles of this secretariat display their registration number including vehicles being used by the Vice President of India and his spouse”, Mr Gogna said.
In a strong remark in its petition, the non-profit group Nyayabhoomi said, “The practice of replacing the registration mark with the State Emblem of India, instead of displaying them both, is arbitrary and symptomatic of the desire to rule rather than to serve.”
Nyayabhoomi’s secretary Rakesh Agarwal asked the court to direct the Delhi government and the Delhi Police to seize all the cars used by the Rashtrapati Bhawan, the vice-president, Raj Niwas and the protocol division of the foreign ministry for not being registered under the Motor Vehicles Act.
The petitioner said the foreign ministry in its reply to an application filed under the Right to Information Act said none of its 14 cars were registered. It said the Rashtrapati Bhawan declined to give the registration numbers of its cars for security reasons.
With inputs from PTI
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