Kerala High Court Cracks Down on Illegally Modified Vehicles and Vloggers

Mainstream
05-Jun-2024
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In a decisive move, the Kerala High Court has ordered stringent action against illegally modified vehicles and vloggers recording videos from the driver's cabin of such vehicles while they are in motion. This directive came in a suo motu case titled Suo Motu v State of Kerala & Ors, with a bench comprising Justices Anil K Narendran and Harisankar V Menon.

In their May 31 order, the judges emphasized that vloggers filming from inside a moving vehicle's driver's cabin are violating the Motor Vehicles Act of 1988, as their actions disrupt the driver’s concentration and endanger road safety. The court specified that these vloggers should face appropriate legal consequences.

Additionally, the court highlighted the need for action against vehicle owners who engage in illegal modifications. Owners will now face a fine of ₹5,000 per alteration under the Motor Vehicles Act. The enforcement of this order includes the Kerala Motor Vehicle Department's officers gathering evidence from online platforms like YouTube, where videos showcasing extensively modified vehicles are uploaded.

The court's order stems from concerns over vehicles modified with unauthorized lights and exhaust systems, which emit excessive light, smoke, and noise, violating the safety standards outlined in AIS-008. These modifications contribute significantly to air and noise pollution, the court noted.

In October of the previous year, the court had already mandated that vehicles violating these safety standards should be prosecuted under Section 190(2) of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988. Despite these instructions, the continued public use of such altered vehicles prompted the current stringent measures.

A particularly alarming case discussed during the hearing involved a YouTuber named 'Sanju Techy,' who dangerously drove a vehicle equipped with a makeshift swimming pool, releasing water onto public roads. The Motor Vehicles Department has since booked the YouTuber, the car's driver, and the owner.

The court has requested a detailed report from the Regional Transport Office regarding this incident and a preliminary report from the Transport Commissioner on how such modified vehicles were allowed on the road.

To curb these unsafe practices, the court issued several directives:

1. Drivers using heavily modified vehicles illegally will be punished under Section 190(2) of the Motor Vehicles Act and disqualified from holding a driver's license for three months.

2. Owners of modified vehicles will face a fine of ₹5,000 per alteration.

3. Registration certificates of extensively modified vehicles threatening passenger and road user safety will be canceled or suspended.

4. The Transport Commissioner should take action against owners who have extensively altered carnet vehicles and used them in public places. The authorities are also tasked with regulating the use of modified carnet vehicles in events like auto shows.

5. Enforcement officers are instructed to collect videos of modified vehicles uploaded online and proceed against the owners and vloggers under Section 190(2) of the Motor Vehicles Act.

6. Vloggers recording inside driver cabins while the vehicle is moving will face penalties for distracting the driver and endangering road safety.

The Transport Commissioner and State Police Chief have been directed to ensure strict compliance with these orders. The court has scheduled the matter for further hearing on June 7, 2024.

Author: Anushka Taraniya

News writer