Vintage car sent for repairs seized, HC seeks govt response

The Delhi High Court on Wednesday sought the Delhi government’s response in a plea against the “arbitrary” seizure of a “75-year-old vintage car” from a repair shop over restrictions on plying of end-of-life vehicles.

A single-judge bench of Justice Subramonium Prasad issued notice to the Delhi government granting it time to file a reply. The court also directed the authorities not to scrap the vehicle in the meantime. The matter is next listed in December.

According to the petitioner, the vehicle, a 1948-model Humber, is “a family heirloom” and belonged to his grandfather. Currently not in use, the vehicle was sent to the garage for repair in order to get it registered as a “vintage car” under the law.

Appearing for the petitioner, advocate Pritish Sabharwal argued that the car was arbitrarily seized by the authorities on June 16.

“I was in the process of refurbishing it. If the car is in a bad shape, it can’t be registered. For that purpose I was getting it refurbished and for its registration as a vintage car under the Motor Vehicles Act,” Sabharwal said. He said that the seizure memo stated that the “owner is not traceable”, but it was later crossed and the name of the petitioner was mentioned. The plea stated that although the government relied on the National Green Tribunal’s 2014 order barring use of petrol and diesel vehicles of over 15 years and 10 years of age, respectively, the petitioner’s car was not contributing to pollution as it was not being driven on the road.

The plea stated that the government did not “possess the right to enter a private garage which is admittedly not a public land and to capture vehicles in a goonish manner.” The plea submitted that the action of the authorities was in violation of the petitioner’s fundamental rights under the Constitution of India.

The plea also alleges that the Delhi government and the authorised scrapper “were working hand in glove for personal gains” and were “part of an elaborate racket to pocket the additional funds from selling old vintage cars”. Apart from a direction to the respondents to return the seized vehicle in its original condition, the petitioner sought compensation of Rs 20 lakh for mental harassment.

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