The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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SC nod for number plates

New Delhi, May 2: The Supreme Court has refused to grant an interim stay on the tender process called by various states to award contracts for manufacture of high-security vehicle registration number plates.

So the states may now be able to go ahead with their tenders and meet the Centre’s deadline of January 1, 2004, for fitting all vehicles across the country with the new high-security number plates. The electronically manufactured number plates cannot be easily tampered with or changed so that vehicles used by terrorists, dacoits, gangsters and other criminals are easily traced. These plates would also make it easier for police to trace stolen vehicles.

Last year, the Centre had decided to amend the motor vehicles laws to implement the high-security number plate scheme.

But petitioners such as the All India Motor Vehicle Security Association, the Association of Registration Plates Manufacturers and others challenged in high courts the tender process of various state governments.

Clubbing the cases together, the apex court transferred them to itself for final disposal. A bench of Justices K.G. Balakrishnan and P. Venkatrama Reddi today posted the case to July for final hearing.

The counsel for the manufacturers association, K. Parasaran and P. Chidambaram, said that according to tender conditions, manufacturers with experience in making such number-plates in other countries alone would be eligible for bidding in India.

This clause, they said, violated Article 14 of the Constitution guaranteeing equality before law and equal application of law.

The counsels for the security association, Kapil Sibal and Abhishek Manu Singhvi, said making such plates required a high level of expertise, so the conditional clause was valid and in public interest.

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