Maninderjit Singh Bitta Vs.
Union Of India &
Ors.  INSC 845 (8 May 2008)
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CIVIL ORIGINAL JURISDICTION WRIT PETITION (CIVIL) NO. 510 OF 2005 Maninderjit
Singh Bitta ...Appellant Versus Union of India & Ors. ...Respondents
Dr. ARIJIT PASAYAT, J.
1. This Writ Petition is purported
to have been filed in Public Interest. The prayer essentially is implementation
by the State and Union Territories of the judgment of this Court 1 in
Association of Registration Plates v. Union of India & Ors.
[2005(1) SCC 679]. By the said
judgment terms and conditions of notices inviting tenders from manufacturers
for the purpose of implementing Section 41(6) of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988
(in short the `Act') and Rule 50 of the Motor Vehicles Rule, 1989 (in short the
`Rules') were considered.
Grievance is made that though in
the aforesaid judgment the norms were fixed and the desirability of having the
High Security Registration Place (in short the `HSRP') has been highlighted
nothing concrete has been done. According to the petitioner, in order to curb
the growing menace of crime and terrorist activities using motor vehicles as a
tool, the Central government came out with a new scheme of HSRP.
Accordingly, Rule 50 of the Rules
was implemented by the Central Government in exercise of powers under Section
41(6) of the Act read with Section 64(d) of the Act by Notification dated
28.3.2001. Instead of old method of obtaining registration number from the RTO
and getting the number plate made from open market, a new system was introduced
regulating the issuance and fixing of the number plate.
2 Subsequently, two more
notifications dated 22.8.2001 and 16.10.2001 were issued to make the
requirement of the scheme complete. The dispute in the earlier decision related
to the terms and conditions of Notices Inviting Tenders (NITs) for supply of
HSRP for motor vehicles. The tenders had been issued by various State
Governments on the basis of guidelines circulated by the Central Government for
implementing the provisions of the Act and the newly amended rules. In paras
10, 11 & 12 it was noted as follows:
"10. The main features of the
high security registration plates as provided in Rule 50 and the Order of 2001
are as follows:
1. It provides for a solid aluminium
2. The plate should be suitable
for hot stamping and would be a reflective sheet.
3. The plate should bear the
letters "IND" in blue colour.
4. It should have a chromium-based
hologram which shall also be hot-stamped.
5. There would be a third
registration mark which would be self-reflective being a chromium-based
hologram sticker and which would be affixed on the windshield of the vehicle.
6. The plate on the rear shall be
fastened with non-removable/ non-reusable snap-lock fitting system.
11. The abovementioned features to
the high security registration plates have been insisted upon for the following
1. Hot chromium-based hologram
would prevent counterfeiting.
2. The ingress letter
"IND" on the plate would secure national identity and
3. The laser-etched seven-digit
code to be given by the manufacturer to each plate is with a view that there
should be a sequential identification of individual registration plates across
the country. This would act as a watermark and would not be erasable by any
mechanical or technical process.
4. Snap-lock to be fitted on the
rear portions of the vehicle would be tamper-proof.
Any attempt to remove the plate
would break it.
5. The reflective sheet of
superior grade would be visible from a minimum of 200 metres.
6. The alphanumeral would be
easily readable and identifiable.
7. On alphanumeral border, ingress
letters "IND" would prevent painting and screen printing which would
act as protection against counterfeiting.
8. The sticker to be affixed on
the windshield would have seven-digit laser code containing the engine number
and the chassis number. This is so designed as to be self- destructive upon
12. After Rule 50 was amended and
the New High Security Registration Plates (Amendment) Order, 2001 was issued in
purported exercise of power under Section 109(3) of the Act, the Ministry of
Road Transport and Highways vide its letter dated 6-3-2002 circulated the
minutes of the meeting of 4-3-2001 held between the representatives of all
States and Union Territories on introduction of the new system of registration
plates. A series of meetings were held by the Union with the 4 States.
Eventually, on 6-3-2002 the Union laid down guidelines for incorporating
necessary conditions in the notices inviting tenders to be issued by the
various States. In substance, the guidelines suggest as follows:
1. The tender document would
specify whether the appointment of the vendor was for the whole State or for
2. The tender document would
specify the terms of the bank guarantee.
3. The tender document would
require a report-back on certain aspects on "a periodic and regular
4. The bidder must furnish proof
of past experience/expertise in this area or proof of the same with a
2. This Court after analyzing the
various provisions and the intent of the prescription dismissed the writ
petitions filed directly before this Court and transferred from the High
3. It is contended by the petitioner
that the scheme as contained in the Notifications dated 22.8.2001 and
16.10.2001 are as follows:
"(i) It prescribes the high
security technical features that the plates must contain. These 5 features are
such that the plates cannot be duplicated, removed or replaced. It also ensures
that the identification and tracking of the vehicle is certain and easier.
(ii) It is mandatory that the
intending manufacturer must obtain a Type Approval Certificate (TAC) from one
of the notified agencies. The companies submit samples which are certified to
be technically complying with the requirements of Rule 50.
(iii) The implementing agency is
the State through its RTO. The RTO has to issue the number as well as the plate
which shall be fixed in the premises of RTO by the selected manufacturer."
4. It is pointed out that the
primary grounds for rejection of the stand of the writ petitioners in the
aforesaid case are as follows:
"(a) The imposition of strict
conditions is in furtherance of the object sought to be achieved.
(b) There is no scope for trial
The State has the onerous duty to
ensure that it eliminates `fly by night' operates who claim that they can
deliver but have neither experience nor financial capacity to deliver. They are
there to somehow get the work.
6 (c) Till date the technology to
manufacture the plates has not developed in India. Thus there cannot be a pure
Indian Manufacturer without a JV partner.
(d) The conditions are fair and
reasonable. They are not arbitrary and are free from malafides.
(e) The fact that there are few
manufacturers who can pass the eligibility test does not mean that monopoly is
created in their favour or that the conditions are tailor made.
(f) The term of 15 year contract
and selection of one manufacturer for the whole State was also held to be non
arbitrary and reasonable. The argument about creation of monopoly was also
5. Grievance of the petitioner and
the intervener i.e. All India Motor Vehicles Security Association is that
subsequent to the judgment the scheme of HSRP is yet not implemented in any
State except the State of Meghalaya and other States are still repeating the
processing of the tender. The prayer therefore is that the purpose of
introducing the scheme should 7 be fulfilled letter and spirit. The objective
being public safety and security there should not be any lethargy. It is
pointed out that most of the States floated the tenders and thereafter without
any reason the process has been slowed down. From the details filed, the various
States and the Union Territories can be categorised as follows:
CATEGORY STATUS OF STATE WISE
THIS HON'BLE COURT IN ASSOCIATION
OF REGISTRATION PLATES & ORS.V. UNION OF INDA (2005(1) SCC 679) CATEGORY-1
States who had defended the Tender conditions before this Hon'ble Court and
cancelled the tender after 30.11.2004, the date of judgment in 2005(1) SCC 679.
1. Jammu & Kashmir
5. Pondicherry CATEGORY-II States
who had defended the Tender conditions before this Hon'ble Court and thereafter
re-floated fresh Tender in consonance with the judgment of the Hon'ble Courtin
2005(1) SCC 679.
3. Dadra N. Haveli
4. Daman & Diu 8 CATEGORY III
States who had defended the Tender conditions before this Hon'ble Court and
subsequently re-floated Tender without the essential conditions and what was
defended before this Hon'ble Court.
1. West Bengal
2. Tamil Nadu CATEGORY - IV States
who have issued Tender after the judgment of this Hon'ble Court in 2005 (1) SCC
679 in consonance with the Tender conditions upheld in the said judgment.
4. Manipur CATEGORY-V States who
had defended the Essential Tender conditions before this Hon'ble Court and
subsequently awarded the same Tender.
2. Meghalaya CATEGORY VI States
who have issued the Tender after 30.11.2004 without the essential tender
3. Andaman & Nicobar CATEGORY
VII The state of Uttar Pradesh who had issued the notice inviting Tender on
27.4.2003 without the essential conditions and the Letter of Intent though
issued on 07.5.2003 the contract is yet to be signed. State of Uttar Pradesh be
directed to issue fresh Tender with the essential conditions.
6. It appears that some of the
States have not yet floated the tenders and in some cases after the tenders
have been floated there appears to be no noticeable progress.
7. The Union of India and some of
the States have questioned the locus standi of the petitioner to file the
petition and have stated that this is not a Public Interest Litigation and some
of the business concerns who will be benefited from the tenders have put up the
petitioner as a front to add legitimacy to the cause. It is stated that
ultimately it is the business interest which is lurking in the background and
in commercial matters this Court should not interfere.
8. Without going into the question
as to whether the petition is a bonafide Public Interest Petition, we feel it
would be in the interest of all concerned if the States and the Union
Territories take definite decision as to whether there is need for giving
effect to the amended Rule 50 and the Scheme of HSRP and the modalities to be
9. Needless to say the scheme
appears to have been introduced keeping in view the public safety and security
of the citizens. Let necessary decisions be taken, if not already taken, within
a period of six months from today. While taking the decision the aspects
highlighted by this Court in the earlier decision needless to say shall be kept
10. The writ petition is
accordingly disposed of alongwith the I.A. for intervention without any order
as to costs.
(DR. ARIJIT PASAYAT)
(LOKESHWAR SINGH PANTA) New Delhi: