The Madras High Court on Tuesday stayed the operation of a circular issued by the Transport Commissioner on August 28 instructing all Regional Transport Officers (RTOs) in the State not to register motor vehicles purchased for non-commercial purposes in the name of individuals who do not hold valid driving licences.
Justice M. Duraiswamy granted the interim stay on a writ petition filed by the New Delhi-based Federation of Automobile Dealers Associations. The case was filed on several grounds, including the permitted practice of purchasing vehicles in the names of minors and institutions.
The petitioner’s counsel S. Govindaraman pointed out that the circular had been issued on the strength of Section 5 of the Motor Vehicles Act of 1988, which states that no owner or “person in charge” of a motor vehicle should permit any person who had not completed 18 years of age or does not possess a driving licence to drive the vehicle.
Stating that the Transport Commissioner had interpreted the provision to mean that motor vehicle dealers would fall under the term ‘person in charge’ and therefore they could not sell vehicles to people not holding a valid driving licence, the counsel contended that such interpretation was absurd and illogical.
Contending that vehicles could be purchased in the name of minors, companies and even the physically challenged, and driven with the assistance of qualified drivers or others holding valid driving licences, he contended that the dealers could not be burdened with the responsibility of selling them only to people holding driving licences.
He also said that the motor vehicle dealers would suffer huge losses if the circular was pressed into operation.