SC notice to Delhi govt, car dealers

Petition alleges extraction of money from buyers in name of handling charges

The Supreme Court on Monday issued notice to the Delhi government on a petition alleging illegal extraction of money ranging from Rs 3,500 to Rs 25,000 from vehicle buyers by automobile dealers here in the name of handling charges.

A bench of Justices D K Jain and Madan B Lokur also sought response from a number of automobile dealers in the national Capital and car makers on the petition filed by advocates C Rajaram and R S Dakha, while expressing its displeasure over the extra charges being levied on the buyers.

“You have made these charges look like a government levy when it is not. How can you charge them when you have not been authorised? Where are the rules in the Motor Vehicles Act that authorise you? It is sort of a game that you are playing with the customers. It seems your manufacturers have told the commission that they are expected to pay  you. You can pass them on to the buyers,” the court said. Advocate Joseph Aristotle, appearing for the petitioners claimed that the automobile dealers in Delhi have collectively made an illegal gain of Rs 550 crore since 1996 by collecting illegal charges in the name of “handling /logistic/ loading/unloading/service charges etc,” during the course of selling new automobiles to consumers.

According to the petitioner, since 1996 after the amendment in the Delhi Motor Vehicles Rules, 1993, dealers have started charging extra money as those having trade certificates were allowed to register the vehicles at their respective showrooms.

If a consumer buys a Maruti Ritz car, with an ‘on road’ price of Rs 4,45,500, the dealer would charge, a minimum additional sum of Rs 4,500, which is not only in violation of Rule 30(2) of Delhi Motor Vehicle Rule, 1993, but also in contravention of the terms and conditions of Trade Certificate and Empowerment of Registering Authorities, he said.

The petition challenged the Delhi High Court order of April 20, which had termed the “extra” fee as “service of registration” which they said was never the contention in their public interest litigation as it was fixed as Rs 200 and Rs 60 for four wheelers and two wheelers, respectively.

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