Road Safety Is Important, but What About Bizarre Automotive Laws?

A look at a few archaic and bizarre automotive rules of some states in India. 

Published
Car and Bike
4 min read
Many Indian states have some unique automotive laws. 
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India has many automotive laws, and as you may have noticed, not many are followed. However, there are some that are just plain bizarre. Some have been sanctioned with good intent, but are difficult to execute. And some are just too old to be relevant anymore.

Here is a look at some of those bizarre rules in the Indian automotive space.

No Pillion Rider on Bikes Below 100 cc

The Karnataka Government has decided to implement a bizarre rule that exists in its automotive law book – the Karnataka Motor Vehicle Rules 1989. Section 143 (Sub-section 3) states that ‘No pillion seat shall be attached to a motorcycle with less than 100 cc engine’.

Section 143 of the Karnataka Motor Vehicle Rules bans pillion riders on bikes below 100 cc. 
Section 143 of the Karnataka Motor Vehicle Rules bans pillion riders on bikes below 100 cc. 
Photo: Karnataka Motor Vehicle Rules 1989 screengrab

This rule has been in force since 1989, and was sought to be amended in 1996, given the proliferation of 100 cc motorcycles (the largest chunk of the market), which comes with seating capacity for two adults.

The high court recently quoted this rule and banned all pillion riders on bikes below 100 cc, after a spate of accidents involving fatalities to the pillion rider. The government now wants to amend the rule and make it applicable only to motorcycles below 50 cc (which mostly comprises of mopeds).

Audio and AC Tax

Until a few years ago, you had to pay a separate tax if you had a music system in your car, and another tax for use of an air-conditioner in the car in West Bengal. Thankfully, the motor vehicle rules of the state were amended to abolish this tax in 2012.

A separate tax for car air-conditioners and audio systems used to be levied in West Bengal. 
A separate tax for car air-conditioners and audio systems used to be levied in West Bengal. 
(Photo: West Bengal Motor Vehicle Rules 1989 screengrab)

Most cars in India come factory fitted with an AC and a music system these days, and this tax just did not make sense, especially since other states had no such provision.

Also read: Your Car Just Got Smarter As Apple Car Play, Android Auto Catch On

Yellow Strip on Headlamp

If you ever drive through Gujarat, you would notice this strange vertical yellow sticker on the right headlamp of all vehicles in the state. This is a strange rule that exists only in Gujarat – although, there is no reference in the rule book to it.

Gujarat requires motorists to paste a yellow sticker on the right side of the main beam on car headlamps.
Gujarat requires motorists to paste a yellow sticker on the right side of the main beam on car headlamps.
(Photo: The Quint)

Motorists have been stopped and fined for not sporting this yellow strip on the right headlamp of the car. The purpose of the sticker was apparently to prevent the blinding high beam light on the oncoming traffic on single lane roads.

However, that sticker is quite ineffective given that headlamps are no longer plain, simple round units. With multi-reflector, multi-beam, and projector headlamps on vehicles now, this rule is archaic, but continues to be selectively enforced.

No Diesel Engines Above 2,000 cc

In late 2015, when the argument about pollution caused by diesel vehicles reached a crescendo, the Supreme Court banned the registration of diesel cars, and SUVs in the national capital region with engine capacities above 2,000 cc. The court was going with the National Green Tribunal’s demand for the ban.

Road Safety Is Important, but What About Bizarre Automotive Laws?

While most luxury carmakers were hit, some manufacturers like Mahindra were quick to respond by launching 1.99 litre diesel engine variants of the Scorpio and XUV500, ducking under the ban. In a few months, the ban was lifted after automakers agreed to an additional cess on diesel vehicles with large engine capacities.

Also read: NGT to Not Lift Ban on 10-Year-Old Diesel Vehicles in Delhi

Half Headlamp Painted Black

The Karnataka government had another bizarre rule years ago, which has thankfully been abolished now. This rule was implemented more so in Bengaluru than any other city in the state. It required motorists to have the top half of the headlamps on their vehicles covered in black paint or tape.

Karnataka had a rule where headlamps had to be painted half black. 
Karnataka had a rule where headlamps had to be painted half black. 
(Photo: The Quint)

The purpose of this bizarre rule was to prevent motorists from driving with high beam and dazzling other drivers. However, it became impossible to implement this rule with headlamps no longer being of a standard shape and size, and hence the rule was scrapped. Neighbouring states used to insist on a black dot in the centre of the headlamp for a similar purpose.

(Breathe In, Breathe Out: Are you finding it tough to breathe polluted air? Join hands with FIT in partnership with #MyRightToBreathe to find a solution to pollution. Send in your suggestions to fit@thequint.com or WhatsApp @ +919999008335)

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