The recent order of the Karnataka government, which makes it mandatory to install High Security Registration Plate (HSRP) on two crore old vehicles registered prior to 1st April 2019, is not only a blatant violation of the existing rules but is also designed to benefit a small cartel of manufacturers of such plates.
The August 18 circular of the state Transport Department violates the Central Motor Vehicle Act and Rules (CMVA and CMVR), which requires the affixation of HSRPs through only the vehicle manufacturer’s dealership network, has thrown out of business around 25,000 people and their families engaged in manufacturing these plates.
The circular, which was ostensibly issued in support of the provisions in the CMVR and General Statutory Rules (GSR), suffers from several flaws as it permits only vehicle manufacturers (OEMs) and their dealers to supply HSRP for old and new vehicles.
As per the existing provisions, HSRPs for old vehicles can also be supplied through registering authority, OEMs through their dealers, and original HSRP manufacturers through their dealers.
However, the Karnataka government, through the ambiguous circular, purposefully omitted amendments made in the CMVR during 2020 and 2022, and mandated supply of HSRPs for old vehicles only through OEMs and their dealers. It has resulted in the exclusion of majority of eligible HSRP manufacturers from supplying HSRP for old vehicles and facilitated backdoor entry of four influential HSRP manufacturers.
“Even though there are 23 HSRP manufacturers who have approval of the Central Government, the Karnataka government’s circular has favoured only four HSRP manufacturers who tied up with OEMs. Consequently, booking, payment collection, billing and supplying are being done only by them through their own private portals like bookmyhsrp.com and makemyhsrp.com,” says Akila Karnataka Vehicle Number Plates Manufactures’ and sellers Association President S Satish.
Since majority of original HSRP manufacturers and their dealers who are eligible as per the Rule have been eliminated from the market, these four manufacturers are selling HSRPsat an exorbitant price.
The CMVR Act does not permit the state governments either to make or modify the way and manner of displaying registration marks. But this circular mandates consumers to install HSRP from a single vendor approved by each vehicle manufacturer. Although consumers have the choice to install HSRPs at a lower cost, the Transport Department has enforced higher-priced purchases from a single vendor, infringing upon their right to choose.
This circular would not bring any benefit to the state’s economy, as public funds are channelled to online portals of HSRP manufacturers located outside Karnataka. More than Rs 1,000-crore business is solely controlled by the private online portals of the four HSRP manufacturers.