The petitioner herein claims to be the registered owner of an Ambulance (Regn.No.AP- 04-U-2474) with a seating capacity of five in all. He got it changed as Omni Bus with a seating capacity of 30 in all by removing the Ambulance equipment inside the vehicle and fixing the seats 30 in all. Thereafter the petitioner made an application on 1.2.2010 bringing the alteration to the notice of the 1st respondent – Regional Transport Officer, Proddatur – and requesting to get the vehicle inspected by the Motor Vehicle Inspector so as to enable him to ply it as Omni Bus. The said application was rejected by the 1st respondent by proceedings dated 8.2.2010 and aggrieved by the same, the present writ petition is filed contending that as per Section 52 (3) of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, the 1st respondent is bound to make the necessary entries in the Registration Certificate by collecting the prescribed fee.
The scope and object of Section 52 of the Motor Vehicles Act as amended by Act 27 of 2000, was considered in detail by a Full Bench of this Court in A.CHANDRA SEKHAR REDDY v. UNION OF INDIA (F.B.)[AIR 2002 AP 148]. Having noticed the language of Section 32 of the repealed Motor Vehicles Act, 1939 which provided for alteration in motor vehicles vis-à-vis Section 52 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 as it stood prior to amendment by Act 27 of 2000 and thereafter, the Full Bench held as under:
“The provisions of sub-section (1) of S. 52 inserted by the Amendment Act, 2000 must be read as to fulfil the object and purpose of the Act. As noticed hereinbefore, the phraseology used in the section may not be happy or the section may not be happily worded but we have to give a purposive meaning thereto. If the word "alteration" is read in the manner as suggested by the learned counsel for the petitioners we would not be able to give effect to the words "particulars contained in the certificate of registration are at variance with those originally specified by the manufacturer." The changes in the structure of a vehicle resulting in change in its basic feature must not be at variance with the certificate of registration.”
While observing that the changes effected by the Parliament in a phased manner clearly show that whereas the earlier provisions were merely regulatory, a prohibition had been imposed with a little elbow space therein, the Full Bench held that by reason of the proviso appended to Section 52 (1) of the 1988 Act, a modification of the engine or any part thereof was permissible and such modification of engine may be made for facilitating its operation by different types of fuel or source of energy as specified therein by fitting a conversion kit subject to such conditions as may be prescribed.
It is clear from the law laid down by the Full Bench that Section 52 (1) prohibits alteration of vehicles as regards the particulars contained in the Certificate of Registration which are at variance with those originally specified by the manufacturer. It is not disputed before this Court that the Certificate of Registration contains many particulars including the type of body, seating capacity and class of vehicle. As could be seen from the counter-affidavit filed on behalf of the respondents, the class of the vehicle in question was shown as “ambulance”. Similarly the type of body was shown as “closed” and the seating capacity was shown as “five in all”. The alterations made by the petitioner have admittedly resulted in alteration of the above said particulars contained in the Certificate of Registration and apparently they are at variance with the particulars originally specified by the manufacturer. Thus the statutory prohibition under Section 52 (1) is attracted and consequently the 1st respondent has rightly rejected the petitioner’s request for registering the conversion of the vehicle from Ambulance to Omni Bus. Sub-section (3) of Section 52 of the Act, upon which the learned counsel for the petitioner placed reliance has no application to the present case. Sub-section (3) has to be read along with sub-section (2) which applies to those persons who own not less than 10 transport vehicles. So far as the present case is concerned, sub-section (1) alone is applicable and therefore except the alterations of the engine to the extent mentioned in the proviso, no other alterations are permissible.