The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Number plates notice to Centre

New Delhi, Dec. 8 (PTI): A government order for introducing high-security number plates for vehicles from March 2003 has been challenged in Delhi High Court on grounds that it has helped create a monopoly that will result in an eight-fold rise in prices.

The road transport ministry, through an order dated August 22, 2001, tried to gift the Rs 16,000-crore deal to a cartel of manufacturers, alleged a writ petition filed by the All India Private Vehicle Owners Association.

A high court bench comprising Justices Anil Dev Singh and R.S. Sodhi has issued notices to the Centre, the director (road transport), the Central Road Research Institute, the Automotive Research Association of India and five companies that allegedly formed the cartel.

The five companies named as respondents are Shimnit Utsch India, Utsav Safety Systems, Real Industries, Eastern (Steel and Swas) Industries and Promuk Hoffmann International.

Seeking the government’s reply, the court suggested that it should think over the matter once again because a “very huge amount is involved”.

“The cartel intends to sell the high-security number plates at a cost to be determined by them, which would vary between Rs 1,500 and Rs 2,000 per plate, while the actual cost should not be more than Rs 250,” the counsel for the association, Nalin Tripathi, said. Several states have already issued tenders in favour of the cartel, he added.

The association said vehicle owners would have no option but to submit to the “arbitrary” hike in cost imposed on them.

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