Cops checkmate man for modifying bike

Surprising your beloved with an exclusive gift on your wedding anniversary will definitely hold you in good stead, but for Hermit Sethi, husband of television actor Shveta Salve, the present he chose for his other half has instead costed him more. Hermit, on Sunday evening, was fined Rs 400 by the traffic cops for modifying the colour of his white LML Vespa scooter the gift he chose for his wife on their first wedding anniversary.

He turned the vehicle’s body to a black and white chequered pattern, which is illegal according to traffic rules. According to the Regional Transport Office (RTO), the colour of your bike mentioned in the registration certificates (RC) book should not vary from the actual colour of the vehicle.

Hermit, on Sunday evening, was fined Rs 400 by the traffic cops for modifying the colour of his white LML Vespa scooter to a black and white chequered pattern, which is illegal according to traffic rules. Pics/Madeeha Attari

In April this year, Sethi had purchased the two-wheeler for his wife. But a couple of days before their wedding anniversary, he had the vehicle modified, by placing black stickers on it, to resemble a chessboard. Traffic police apprehended Sethi on Sunday, and told him that modifications are not allowed without RTO permission. The action was taken under Section 52 and 191 of the Motor Vehicle Act, and receipt for the same was also issued.

“I had seen a similar design in a magazine wherein the bike was chequered black and white. I thought it might be a nice idea to use it on the bike I bought for Shveta, and surprise her for our first anniversary, which was on April 24”, said Sethi. He had got the bike modified in Santacruz for Rs 2,000. “We have a house in Goa, where we were supposed to take the bike and then leave it there, but the idea was postponed due to the rains”, said Sethi.

On Sunday evening, while taking the bike out for a spin, he was stopped by traffic cops outside the Khar traffic chowki. “They said that it was against the law to modify my bike without the RTO permission and fined me Rs 400. I obviously protested because how was I supposed to know what is allowed and what’s not. I told them to show me the rulebook, where it states that modifications require permission. They didn’t have any book off-hand with them. Of course this wasn’t good enough for me,” he said.

Ultimately, Sethi and Shveta, who had later joined him on hearing the story, gave in and paid the fine due to lack of any other more favourable alternative, as the traffic police had even threatened to confiscate their bike and instructed Sethi to collect his driving licence and two-wheeler from the court. To avoid any inconvenience, the couple obliged.

“Just because I paid the fine, it doesn’t mean I agree one bit with what they said”, said Sethi. “This is absolutely ridiculous. It’s not an obvious policy, like knowing not to smoke in public or hospitals. If such restrictions exist, then they should be made clear to the lay man who naturally won’t have a clue about such things.” In retaliation against what he sees as unnecessary injustice, Sethi has decided against removing the modifications made to the bike. “If I have to pay the fine again and again, so be it,” said Sethi.

Sec 52 of the Motor Vehicle Act says:
“No owner of a motor vehicle shall so alter the vehicle that the particulars contained in the certificate of registration are at variance with those originally specified by the manufacturer: provided that where the owner of a motor vehicle makes modification of the engine, or any part thereof, of a vehicle for facilitating its operation by different type of fuel or source of energy including battery, compressed natural gas, solar power, liquid petroleum gas or any other fuel or source of energy, by fitment of a conversion kit, such modification shall be carried out subject to such conditions as may be prescribed.

Law enforcers say
Brijesh Singh, additional commissioner of police (Traffic) said: “One cannot make changes to their vehicle without informing the authorities.”
A senior Transport department official said: “Under section 52 of the Motor Vehicle Act, it is barred for people to change colour of the vehicle before informing the RTO or the transport department about it.” 

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