CHENNAI: The Madras High Court has struck down a notification levying additional fee as penalty by the Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways for delayed renewal of driving licence, registration and submission of NOC for ownership transfer for motor vehicles.
A division Bench of Justices S Nagamuthu and Anita Sumanth issued the directive while partly allowing the PILs from various associations of drivers, driving schools, auto drivers and the lorry owners federation to declare the amendments to Rules 32 and 81 of the Central Motor Vehicles Rules increasing the fees as invalid, illegal, ultra virus of the Constitution.
The power of the government in light of Section 211 of the Central Motor Vehicles Act is to levy a fee for services offered by the officers or the authorities. The fee prescribed is thus designated to be commensurate with the services rendered.
“We fail to see any justification for the levy of an additional fee as penalty when there is no change in the nature of service rendered by the authority under the Act, particularly in the absence of any statutory backing for the same. The Motor Vehicles Act and the Central Motor Vehicle rules at present only contain a provision authorising the levy of fee and nothing more. In view of the foregoing discussion, we find that the levy of additional fee under various heads as per the impugned notification is without authority and such levy of additional fee is, therefore, liable to be struck down,” the judges said.
The judges added that they could not lose sight of the position that the service rendered by the authorities under Section 211 of the MV Act would remain the same irrespective of the period of delay in compliance of the statutory provisions. Thus there was no justification for the levy of penalty over and above the fee itself. The present proposal for the levy of a fine was clearly without requisite authority, the Bench said and struck down the notification amending the rule 32 and rule 81 of the Act to impose the additional fee.