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A plea challenging the Centre's direction to all states to take stern action against unauthorised fitting of crash guards or bull bars on vehicles today led the Delhi High Court to seek the government's stand. A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar, which asked the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways to respond, was of the view that "human life is more important than installation of bull bars". The court's observation came after it was informed by the Centre's lawyer that in case of a crash involving vehicles with bull bars, the impact is disproportionately distributed and thus, airbags may not open to save the occupants. The ministry in December last year had issued a direction to all the state governments to take action, saying the crash guards posed danger to both pedestrians and vehicle occupants and were in violation of the Motor Vehicles Act. Mohammed Arif, who claims to be a manufacturer and dealer of crash guards or bull bars, has sought stay on the operation of the ministry's December 7, 2017 direction to the states. Arif has sought to implead himself in a pending PIL, filed by Aarshi Kapoor and Sidharth Bagla, which has claimed that while these bumpers may look stylish and protect the vehicle in low speed impacts, in high speed accidents they would defeat the in-built safety features of the car resulting in serious and fatal injuries to the passengers. The PIL by the two individuals has claimed that the metal bumpers installed at the front and back of vehicles are a threat to lives of pedestrians as well as passengers and should be banned. Arif, in his impleadment application, has said that the Centre's decision has no legality as there is no rule, law or bye-law dealing with accessories such as crash guards or bull bars. The court has fixed the matter for further hearing on February 6. The dealer in his application has also said that bull bars do not fall under the purview of section 52 of the Motor Vehicle Act, because the section pertains to modification in a vehicle and not with after-market fitments. According to the Act, "No owner of a motor vehicle shall so alter the vehicle that the particulars contained in the certificate of registration are at variance with those originally specified by the manufacturer." Violation of this provision attracts a Rs 1,000 fine for the first offence and Rs 2,000 for subsequent offences.
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