The Karnataka High Court passed a judgement on 16.12.22 quashing the State’s decision to exclude Private Sector employees From BH-Series Registration for vehicles under the learned Justice CM Poonacha in the case of Ranjith K P v. Principal Secretary To Government, Transport Department, Government of Karnataka (Writ Petition No. 683 of 2022).
FACTS OF THE CASE
It is the case of the Petitioners in both the Writ Petitions that, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (hereinafter referred to as ‘MORTH’), Government of India, vide Notification bearing No.G.S.R.594(E), dated 26.8.2021, introduced a new registration mark for new vehicles called “Bharath Series (BH-Series)” and that the marking will not require an assignment of a new registration mark when the owner of the vehicle shifts from one State to another. That as per the said Notification dated 26.8.2021, the vehicle registration facility under BH-Series will be available on voluntary basis to defence personnel, employees of Central Government/State Government, Central/State Government Public Sector Undertakings, private sector companies/organizations which are having their offices in 4 or more States/Union Territories. That the Petitioners after purchase of the vehicles sought for registration of their vehicles as per the BH-Series. However, they were informed by the dealer that the on-line portal is not accepting BH-Series registration for private individuals. Further, it is contended by the Petitioners that the Transport Offices in the State of Karnataka are not accepting registration of the vehicles of the Petitioners under BH-Series by virtue of the Notification dated 20.12.2021 issued by the Commissioner of Transport and Road Safety, Bangalore. Hence, the present Writ Petitions are filed seeking for suitable reliefs.
Before the Court, the state government defended its notification by putting forth the point that there is a possibility of reduction in collection of State Revenue and the department might not meet the State Government’s set revenue collection objective.
By bringing in light, the fact that BH-Series registration was envisaged by Government of India to avoid the cumbersome process of citizens bringing NOC from one state and applying for new registration mark in the other state and then applying for refund of taxes from the previous state of transfer to another, the court said:
“The apprehension of the State of Karnataka that, the private sector employees are working on contract basis and are frequently changing from one company to another, is not a ground not to adhere to the Notification dated 26.8.2021 in its entirety. It is open to the officers/officials of the State Government to scrupulously scrutinize the documents, so that, the private sector employees who opt to register their vehicles under BH-Series registration satisfy the criteria as stipulated in the Notification dated 26.8.2021.”
As mentioned by the State Government regarding issue of revenue loss by the government , the court referred to Lok Sabha discussion dated 21.7.2022 in question No.738 regarding BH-Series registration vehicles and it was answered by the Hon’ble Minister for Road Transport and Highways, Government of India, that even though the motor vehicles shall pay tax for a period of 2 years or in multiples of it, at 25% higher rate and the same being remitted to respective State/Union Territory on-line and hence, there is no finance loss to the State exchequer.
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JUDGEMENT REVIEWED BY VAISHNAVI SINGH