We have seen millions of people belonging to the profession of Doctors, Police or Advocates around us using stickers on their vehicles. Have you ever wondered whether it is legitimate to do so or not?
The use of stickers on cars by Advocates, Doctors, Police etc. has been widely misused by people for their benefits. These stickers are also misused by criminals to shield the criminal activities or get away from the clutches of the police.
Those in favour of thes sticker say that the purpose of sticker is ensure identity of the person belonging to a particular profession and also for the purpose of parking facility in designated areas.
Those who are against this say that it is absolutely wrong and should not be allowed.
In November 2020, the Madras High Court vide its order in V. Ramesh V. The Vice-Chancellor, Dr. Ambedkar Law University and Ors. questioned the act of putting advocate stickers on vehicles. It asked if the stickers were legally authorised and if they had legal sanction. The court was of the opinion that if the stickers were being used to do wrongful acts, why should they not be banned.
It then went to Sec.177 of the Motor Vehicles Act 1998 which is a residuary penalty clause. This essentially means that the clause obligates the party in fault to pay compensation for any contraventions in relation to the act or rule, regulation or notification related to it.
“Whoever contravenes any provision of this Act or any rule, regulation or notification made thereby under shall, If no penalty is provided for the offence be punishable for the first offence with fine which may extend to one hundred rupees,and any second or subsequent offence with fine which may extend to three hundred rupees”.
The issue in front largely arises due to the fact that such stickers have been used since ages for the purpose of identification or parking privileges. While it is understandable that an official vehicle of the state may impose these stickers, the use of it on private vehicles is doing more harm than good.
Another issue is that there is no uniform law passed in this regard. While many States ban the use of such stickers, others don’t. The issue can also be taken to say poor implementation of the ban.
The misuse of the stickers relates to using the privilege of these stickers to gain wrongful advantage or to do wrongful acts. To get away with breaking the rules or to avoid being checked, thousands of people add these stickers to their vehicles.
An example of that could be to avoid checking on check posts thus making it easy to smuggle; or even a simple act of using someone else’s’ rightful parking spots. On top of this, there is a gross misrepresentation that these stickers cause.
As many people make use of these stickers this may actually hinder the real ones to provide services to the needy as when a sticker used by a doctor on his vehicle there is an emergency in those cases it would be vital that he is not intervened by police authorities as a min delay can have serious repercussions.
In 2019, the Bombay High Court also ordered a ban on such stickers on private vehicles. After this, the police put a widespread check on vehicles and cracked down those which used these stickers in a wrongful manner.
Another connection being made to these stickers is with stickers of religion and caste being displayed on vehicles which is unlawful. This use is also brought under the above mentioned section of The Motor Vehicles Act.
In 2019, the Allahabad High Court had also issued a similar order, after which the police caught and fined hundreds using various stickers including those of caste, religion and influential posts (which includes job posts) on their vehicles.
Prohibition on Using Stickers:
Rule 49 of Central Motor Vehicle Rules 1989, states:
Each plate shall be protected against counterfeiting by applying chromium-based hologram, applied by hot stamping. Stickers and adhesive labels are not permitted. The plate shall bear a permanent consecutive identification number of minimum seven digits, to be laser branded into the reflective sheeting and hot stamping film shall bear a verification inscription;
But this is to be noted that the rule prohibits use of sticker on registration plate not on any other part of the vehicle.
Thus, it can be seen that the legality of these issues lies in the interpretation of Sec.177. However, since this is being dealt with each State differently, one cannot concretely say if they are legal or illegal. In one State it may be completely allowed, whereas in others one may be fined up to Rs.300 for their use.
In case that a Nation-wide decision be made in this regard, only then can one concretely say if these are legal or illegal.
There has been no concrete judgement yet from the Apex Court on whether or not the use of these stickers is allowed, but as many people continue to misuse them, they should either be banned or regulate their use. Some way out should be made for the ones who actually have the adequate authority and reason to use them.
A solution can be to have these stickers registered with a competent authority while issuing them. There should be a legitimate authority to issue stickers to doctors, lawyers and police so that no one else has access to them.
Rajat Rajan Singh
Editor-in Chief at Law Trend
Advocate- Allahabad High Court at Lucknow
Sai Kulkarni and Apurva Surve (Interns)