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In this blogpost, Arjun Natarajan, [1] a litigator, writes on Delhi government’s ‘odd-even rule’

 

What this blog post is not about!

That’s a very clichéd way of starting a blog post. Novices like me do it and feel very happy!

That apart, let us talk about things that matter. We have come across some opinions, on the legality of Government of National Capital Territory (NCT) of Delhi’s recent notification, which is popularly known as ‘odd-even rule’. We have also come across numerous opinions on the workability of this rule. In my capacity as a person who drives on the streets of City of Djinns, I wanted to know, as to what exactly this rule is. All said and done, opinions which are fed to us cannot drive us. Therefore, I decided to hear it from the horse’s mouth! I read Government of NCT of Delhi’s recent notification, which is popularly known as ‘odd-even rule’.

The odd-even rule

In this blog post, I shall endeavour to present odd-even rule, as I understood it to be, by reading Notification dated 28 December 2015,[1] which is popularly called ‘odd-even rule’. It is available in English and in Hindi, on http://it.delhigovt.nic.in/writereaddata/egaz20157544.pdf Do read it!

In this blog post, I shall refer to this notification as ‘odd-even Notification’.

As per odd-even Notification, it came into force, with effect from 1 January 2016. Odd-even Notification provides that it will remain in force till 15 January 2016.

Why odd-even Notification?

Upon a bare perusal of odd-even Notification, it transpires that the reasons leading to its issuance are as under:

  1. NCT of Delhi has more than nine million registered vehicles.
  2. The vehicular pollution has become a major source of air pollution in Delhi.
  3. Hon’ble Supreme Court of India, Hon’ble High Court of Delhi and Hon’ble National Green Tribunal, have passed various directions from time to time, to take immediate action; to control the alarming level of vehicular pollution in Delhi.
  4. All out efforts are being made to give effect to the directions of courts.

From where does Government of NCT of Delhi, derive the power to issue odd-even Notification?

As per odd-even Notification, section 115 read with section 2(41) of The Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 is the source of exercise of power by the Lieutenant Governor of NCT of Delhi, to issue odd-even Notification. As per odd-even Notification, the said power has been exercised on being satisfied that, further steps are required to control the vehicular pollution caused by non-transport four wheeled vehicles (motor cars etc.).

Accordingly, Government of NCT of Delhi has ordered that some prohibitory/restrictive measures shall be in vogue in the area of NCT of Delhi. As per odd-even Notification, the said prohibitory/restrictive measures are in the interest of public safety.

What are “non-transport four wheeled vehicles (motor cars etc.)”?

Let me say it right away, the phrase “non-transport four wheeled vehicles (motor cars etc.)”, means, our cars which we use to commute! You may directly go to the subheading “What are the restrictions/prohibitions prescribed by odd-even Notification?”

If you choose to not skip to the aforesaid subheading, then, I must warn you that, I shall go on to discuss about the phrase “non-transport four wheeled vehicles (motor cars etc.)”, and, burden you with some paraphrased definitions!

Let us first understand the meaning of “transport vehicle”. As per The Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, “transport vehicle” means:[2]

  • a public service vehicle,
  • a goods carriage,
  • an educational institution bus, or,
  • a private service vehicle.

For the sake of added clarity, I shall also go on to set out the definition of “private service vehicle”. As per The Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, “private service vehicle” means:[3]

  • a motor vehicle constructed or adapted to carry more than six persons, excluding the driver, and,
  • it should ordinarily be used by or on behalf of its owner, to carry persons, for or in connection, with his trade or business.
  • However, such carriage should not be for hire, or for reward.
  • It does not include a motor vehicle used for public purposes.

Example of a private service vehicle: Vehicles provided by an office X, to pick up and drop back people working with X.

Odd-even Notification uses the phrase, “non-transport four wheeled vehicles (motor cars etc.)”. For starters, what is not a transport vehicle and what is not a private service vehicle, is a non-transport vehicle.

The phrase, “non-transport four wheeled vehicles (motor cars etc.)”, scrupulously uses the words “four wheeled vehicles”. Therefore, odd-even Notification applies to non-transport vehicles, which have four wheels.

Odd-even Notification also uses the words, “motor cars etc.”

As per The Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, “motor car” means:[4]

  • any motor vehicle other than a transport vehicle, omnibus, road-roller, tractor, motorcycle or invalid carriage.

For the sake of greater clarity, I shall also go on to set out the definitions of “omnibus” and “invalid carriage”. As per The Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, “omnibus” means:[5]

  • any motor vehicle constructed or adapted to carry more than six persons, excluding the driver.

As per The Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, “invalid carriage” means:[6]

  • a motor vehicle which is specially designed and constructed, for the use of a person, who is suffering from some physical defect or disability, and,
  • it should solely be used by such a person, or, for such a person.

The phrase “non-transport four wheeled vehicles (motor cars etc.)”, means, our cars which we use to commute.

What are the restrictions/prohibitions prescribed by odd-even Notification?

  • Our cars, with DL registration numbers or non-DL registration numbers, ending with an odd digit, cannot be driven on even dates of a month from 8 in the morning to 8 at night.
  • Our cars, with DL registration numbers or non-DL registration numbers, ending with an even digit cannot be driven on odd dates of a month from 8 in the morning to 8 at night.

In this blog post, as far as possible, I shall refer to the prohibition contained in bullet point no. 1 as “(i)”, and, the prohibition contained in bullet point no. 2 as “(ii)”.

Odd-even Notification contains a list of vehicles of certain categories, which are outside the scope of (i) and (ii). This list is contained in a schedule, which forms a part of odd-even Notification.

(i) and (ii) will not apply on Sundays. In other words, on Sundays, a registered car can be driven at any time of the day or night, irrespective of whether the registration number ends with an odd digit, or with an even digit. Basically, nothing is an offence on Sundays, in the context of odd-even Notification!

Tip: On Sundays, drive on you crazy diamond!

When is your car outside the scope of (i) and (ii)?

Schedule to odd-even Notification, mentions vehicles of 25 categories. As mentioned above, (i) and (ii) do not apply to vehicles of the categories mentioned in the said Schedule. Do take a look at the Schedule, to get a complete understanding of the vehicles of the categories, as mentioned in the Schedule.

As per the Schedule to odd-even Notification, the exemptions which are relevant to us, in our capacity as people who drive on the streets of Delhi are:

  • If our cars are propelled by CNG and they prominently display on the front windscreen, the sticker ‘CNG Vehicle’, issued by M/s Indraprastha Gas Ltd., then, our cars are exempted.

Tip: If your car is propelled by CNG, then, ensure that you stick on its front windscreen, the sticker ‘CNG Vehicle’, issued by M/s Indraprastha Gas Ltd..

  • If our cars are being driven by handicapped persons, then, our cars are exempted.
  • If our cars are being occupied by handicapped persons, but, they are being driven by a non-handicapped person, then, our cars are exempted.
  • If our cars are having an escort/pilot, then, our cars are exempted.
  • If our cars are electric vehicles, then, they are exempted.
  • If our cars are hybrid vehicles, then, they are exempted.
  • If our cars are being used for medical emergencies, then, they are exempted.

Note: As per odd-even Notification, whether our car is being used for a medical emergency, will be “trust based”. We Dilliwalas (Delhiites) have dil (heart). Let’s not fake something as grave as a medical emergency and demolish our trustworthiness.

  • Clause (xxiv) of the Schedule is worded as under:

“Women only vehicles – including children of age upto 12 years travelling with them;”

Question No. 1: Would it apply to a vehicle, which has only one woman, who is driving it?

Note: This question might assume significance, because, Clause (xxiv) uses the words, “women only vehicles” and not, “woman only vehicles”. However, let us not adopt a hair-splitting argument! A vehicle with women is exempted, therefore, it follows as a logical corollary that a vehicle with a woman is also exempted.

However, Government of NCT of Delhi may consider to explain this, by stating in as many words that:

“Vehicles with woman/women, shall be considered as “Women only vehicles”.      

Question No. 2: Would it apply to a vehicle, which has more than one woman but no children of age upto 12 years, who are travelling with them?

Note: This question might assume significance, because, Clause (xxiv) uses the words “women only vehicles – including children of age upto 12 years travelling with them.”

This question perturbed me.

So, I took a look at odd-even Notification’s Hindi version. In its Hindi version, Clause (xxiv), is worded as under:

 “Vaahan jin mein keval mahilae va 12 varsh tak ki aayu ke bachche ho”

The English translation is:

“Vehicles which have only women and children up to the age of 12 years.”

Clause (xxiv) seems to be more happily worded in odd-even Notification’s Hindi version, vis-à-vis its wording in its English version. Odd-even Notification’s Hindi version clarifies that, in order to be exempted, a vehicle should have women as well as children up to the age of 12 years. In other words, if a vehicle has only women and no children, then, it won’t be exempted. This could have never been the intention of Government of NCT of Delhi.

However, Government of NCT of Delhi may consider to clarify this, by stating in as many words that:

“Women only vehicles – with children of age upto 12 years travelling with them, and, women only vehicles – without children travelling with them;”

If these suggestions are accepted by Government of NCT of Delhi, then, Clause (xxiv) shall be as under:

“Women only vehicles – with children of age upto 12 years travelling with them, and, women only vehicles – without children travelling with them;

Explanation: Vehicles with woman/women, shall be considered as “Women only vehicles.”

Some items in the Schedule, as they stand now, might appear to be ambiguous.

I am sure that Government of NCT of Delhi, would ensure that these ambiguities do not obstruct its laudable and bold effort to curb vehicular pollution.  

What if you drive your car with a registration number ending with an odd digit, on even dates of a month and/or you drive your car with a registration number ending with an even digit, on odd dates of a month?

If your car is not covered within the Schedule, and you drive your car with a registration number ending with an odd digit, on even dates of a month and/or you drive your car with a registration number ending with an even digit, on odd dates of a month, then, odd-even Notification prescribes that, you shall have to pay a fine of Rs. 2000/- as per section 194(1) of The Motor Vehicles Act, 1988.

Why is the fine Rs. 2000/- and not any other amount?

How am I being punished for violating odd-Even Notification? Why is the fine Rs. 2000/- and not any other amount? These are some very obvious questions that we must have asked ourselves and to many others. In this part of the blog post, I shall endeavour to answer these questions.

Section 194(1) of The Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, is as under:

“194. Driving vehicle exceeding permissible weight.(1) Whoever drives a motor vehicle or causes or allows a motor vehicle to be driven in contravention of the provisions of section 113 or section 114 or section 115 shall be punishable with minimum fine of two thousand rupees and an additional amount of one thousand rupees per tonne of excess load, together with the liability to pay charges for off-loading of the excess load.”

If we go only by the heading of section 194 of The Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, then, the said provision makes it an offence, to drive a vehicle which exceeds permissible weight. It is obvious that driving a car with a registration number ending with an odd digit, on even dates of a month, does not amount to exceeding permissible weight! The same applies in relation to driving a car with a registration number ending with an even digit, on odd dates of a month.

However, if when I read the said provision closely, then, I came across the following two aspects:

Firstly, it deals with the offence of driving a motor vehicle or allowing it to be driven, in contravention of the provisions of section 113 or section 114 or section 115 of The Motor Vehicles Act, 1988. The said offence is punishable with minimum fine of Rs. 2000/-. This offence, visibly has nothing to do with the heading, i.e., “Driving vehicle exceeding permissible weight.”

Secondly, it deals with purely the offence of driving a motor vehicle exceeding permissible weight, or, allowing such a vehicle to be driven. The said offence is punishable with minimum fine of Rs. 2000/- plus an additional amount of Rs. 1000/- per tonne of excess load plus the liability to pay charges for off-loading of the excess load. This offence can directly be connected to the heading, i.e., “Driving vehicle exceeding permissible weight.”

For the purpose of odd-even Notification, we can ignore the second aspect, as it deals with exceeding permissible weight. Hence, we are only concerned with the first aspect. As per odd-even Notification, section 115 read with section 2(41) of The Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 is the source of exercise of power by the Lieutenant Governor of NCT of Delhi, to issue odd-even Notification. Therefore, driving a car with a registration number ending with an odd digit, on even dates of a month, as well as, driving a car with a registration number ending with an even digit, on odd dates of a month, is in contravention of the provisions of section 115 of The Motor Vehicles Act, 1988. Thus, in terms of section 194(1) of The Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, the said act is punishable with minimum fine of Rs. 2000/-.

What happens to you, if you drive your car with a registration number ending with an odd digit, on even dates of a month and/or you drive your car with a registration number ending with an even digit, on odd dates of a month?

In exercise of the powers conferred vide section 200(1) of The Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, the Lieutenant Governor of NCT of Delhi has authorised some officers to compound violations of odd-even Notification, with the amount of Rs. 2000/-. Compounding of an offence is the process of wrapping up the consequences of an offence which has been committed, in a manner prescribed by law. In simple words, if the consequences of a certain offence can be wrapped up in a manner prescribed by law, and, a trial can be avoided, then, it is a compoundable offence.

Basically, if your car is not covered within the Schedule, and, you drive your car with a registration number ending with an odd digit, on even dates of a month and/or you drive your car with a registration number ending with an even digit, on odd dates of a month, then, you have committed an offence. However, this is an offence, which can be compounded and a trial can be avoided. So, you compound it, by paying Rs. 2000/- to some prescribed officers, whose details have been set out in odd-even Notification. The officer issues a challan to you, which mentions that the offence has been compounded against payment of Rs. 2000/-. The prescribed officers, whose details have been set out in odd-even Notification, who can compound violations of odd-even Notification are as under:

  • Officers of the rank of Head Constable and above of Delhi Police.
  • Officers of the rank of Head Constables and above of the Transport Department, Government of NCT of Delhi.
  • Officers or authorities as authorised by Divisional Commissioner, Revenue Department, Government of NCT of Delhi.

Where does the money go?

As per odd-even Notification, the amount compounded by the authorised officers/authorities, shall be deposited the “Major Head 0041, taxes on vehicles, 101 –IMV (Fees  & Fine)”, of The Transport Department, Government of NCT of Delhi.

Conclusion

I have tried my best to present odd-even Notification, the way I understood it to be, by reading it. Do share your views.

If we can’t be selfless, then, let us be selfish and make Delhi pollution free!

If we can’t be selfish, then, let us be selfless and make Delhi cleaner and greener for an unborn generation!

There’s something, even for the odd one. There’s something even, for the odd one!

[1] NO.F.3 (218)/MRTS/Tpt./2015/302.

[2] Section 2(47) of The Motor Vehicles Act, 1988.

[3] Section 2(33) of The Motor Vehicles Act, 1988.

[4] Section 2(26) of The Motor Vehicles Act, 1988.

[5] Section 2(29) of The Motor Vehicles Act, 1988.

[6] Section 2(18) of The Motor Vehicles Act, 1988.

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4 COMMENTS

  1. It is obvious that driving a car with a registration number ending with an odd digit, on even dates of a month, does not amount to exceeding permissible weight! The same applies in relation to driving a car with a registration number ending with an even digit, on odd dates of a monthJusticeI hope it reaches your targetted audience. all the best thank you.

  2. The notification should also exempt vehicles driven by paid drivers as their livelihood is also impacted with this notification, just like commercial vehicles.

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