The latest nightmare facing automobile companies in India has crept up in Karnataka, thanks to poorly thought-out legislation. As it turns out, the Motor Vehicle Act, 1989, has a provision which disallows pillion riders on motorcycles below 100cc, but this was being circumvented through the issuing of a ‘type approval certificate’.
The new issue crept up at a recent Karnataka High Court case between an accident victim, who was a pillion rider, and an insurance company when the High Court questioned why the Act wasn’t being adhered to. In response, the Transport Minister HM Revanna told Bangalore Mirror, “Responding to the HC’s direction, we filed an affidavit that we will comply with the Motor Vehicles Act, which does not allow pillion riding on bikes up to 100cc.”
Thus far, to get around the rule in the Motor Vehicle Act, the Transport Department issues ‘type approval certificate’ to manufacturing companies, taking into account the certificates issued by the authorised vehicle certifying agencies like ARAI and CIRI for 1+1 to the two-wheelers attached pillion rider seat. Henceforth, these type certificates won’t be issued. The new rule will not apply to existing two-wheelers on the road, but only to new vehicles sold henceforth.
So who does this effect? Many popular commuters are now in the 110cc and 125cc space and even some ‘100cc’ bikes actually displace just over that amount. However, Hero stands to lose big here as its HF Deluxe, Splendor +, Splendor Pro and Passion Pro all displace 97.2cc. Most scooters are safely above the limit, but the TVS Scooty Pep and the Comfort variant of the highly popular XL100 moped will take a hit.
Sources within the industry tell us that some manufacturers are currently evaluating the legal status of this ruling and are contemplating appealing for a stay order. Further, some reports suggest that the authorities are proposing a reduction of the suggested limit from 100cc to 50cc. As it stands, the only option for manufacturers are to remove the facility of a pillion seat or to slightly increase the displacement of their engines to cross the 100cc mark. Either way, that’s a serious amount of work for just one market.
In the meanwhile, if the government really wants to reduce accidents, which is the rationale behind this move, perhaps they should focus on improving roads and stricter enforcement of the rules.