A plea seeking to enforce the display of registration numbers on cars of constitutional authorities and dignitaries including the President, instead of just the State Emblem of India, has been filed in the Delhi High Court. The petition filed by an NGO claimed that the practice of displaying the state emblem, the four lions, instead of the registration numbers, make the cars conspicuous and the dignitaries an easy target for terrorists and anyone with malicious intent. The plea filed by NGO Nyayabhoomi, which seeks a direction to the Delhi government and Delhi Police to seize the cars used by the Rashtrapati Bhawan, Vice President, Raj Niwas and Protocol division of the Ministry of External Affairs for not being registered under the Motor Vehicles Act, is likely to come up for hearing later this week. It said that non-display of the registration mark of a vehicle was also a violation of provisions of the Act and non-registration of the cars meant they were not insured. "Knowing fully well the very high status of dignitaries travelling in such cars, police and other law enforcement authorities normally do not touch such cars bearing only the State Emblem of India. This feeling of awe on display by the law enforcement authorities may be misused by terrorists and criminals to use such cars for carrying out criminal activities," the petition filed through NGO's secretary Rakesh Aggarwal claimed. The plea referred to an RTI response by the Ministry of External Affairs admitting that none of its 14 cars maintained by its protocol division were registered. On the other hand, the plea claimed that the Rashtrapati Bhawan refused to supply the registration numbers of its cars on the ground that disclosure of this information would endanger the security of the state and life and physical safety of the President. It said that a person meeting with an accident involving such a car cannot bring any claim against it as due to the absence of any identification mark, the vehicle's ownership cannot be known and the citizens get the message that if a dignitary could disobey the law and get away with it, so could they. "The practice of replacing the registration mark with the State Emblem of India, instead of displaying them both is arbitrary and symptomatic of the desire to rule rather than to serve," the plea alleged, adding that the failure or refusal to register the cars violated the provisions of the MV Act. It also sought prosecution of the owners of cars being used by such dignitaries in a time-bound manner and sought a direction to the ministries of home affairs and external affairs to register the cars used by the dignitaries and obtain their insurance policies.
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