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The stamp of power - the state emblem - on the official vehicles of top constitutional authorities like President, vice-president and state governors in place of a number plate, are in violation of law, the government has admitted in a reply to a Right To Information (RTI) application.
The road transport ministry said neither the Motor Vehicles Act nor the Central Motor Vehicle Rules - two instruments for motor vehicle standards – provides for "display of state emblem of India (four lions) in lieu of registration number on motor vehicles".
In simpler terms, the law does not distinguish between common citizens and constitutional authorities when it comes to display of number plate on vehicles. The law says that every vehicle on the road should have a number plate - its unique identification number.
The constitutional authorities have been displaying the state emblem without any number plate. However, there is no record when this practice started.
The government had, however, in 2007 allowed the constitutional authorities and other dignitaries to display the state emblem on their official vehicles.
"But there is no law authorising them to display the state emblem of India in lieu of registration number of the vehicle," the home minister said in a repose to the RTI application filed by Rakesh Agarwal of NGO Nyay Bhoomi.
Agarwal had sought relevant regulations allowing dignitaries to use state emblem in place of the number plate and the number of such vehicles.
Both home and road transport ministry had initially refused to provide information saying it was not relevant, but acted when the information watchdog, the Central Information Commission, issued an order asking them to provide replies to the questions asked.