The Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 – Notes

motor-vehicle-act

In India, regarding motor vehicles, the fist statute was the Indian Motor Vehicles Act, 1914, which later on, as amended by the Motor Vehicles Act, 1939. In spite of several amendments made in the act of 1939, due to improvement in road net-work of the country, the necessity for passengers and hire-management. change in the transport techniques of motor-vehicle management, necessity was felt to the consolidating and amend the law relating to motor vehicles by suitable legislation.

On 14th October 1988, assent was given by the President to the bill of the Motor Vehicles Act duly passed by both the House of the Parliament. This act is known as the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 (Act No. 59 of 1988)
There are in all, 14 chapters, 217 sections and 2 Schedules in the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988.
Chapter 1: Preliminary: Sections 1 and 2.



According to section 1, the Motor Vehicles Act extends to the whole of India. This Act comes into force w.e.f. 1st July 1989. In Section 2, the following definitions are important:

2 (4) “certificate of registration” means the certificate issued by a competent authority to the effect that a motor vehicle has been duly registered in accordance with the provisions of Chapter IV.
2 (5) “conductor” in relation to a stage carriage, means a person engaged in collecting fares from passengers, regulating entrance into, or exit from the stage carriage and performing such other functions as may be prescribed.
2 (6) “conductor’s licence” means the licence issued by a competent authority under Chapter III authorising the person specified therein to act as a conductor.
2 (7) “contract carriage” means a motor vehicle which carries a passenger or passengers for hire or reward and is engaged under a contract, whether expressed or implied, for the use of such vehicle as a whole for the carriage of passengers mentioned therein and entered into by a person with a holder of a permit in relation to such vehicle or any person authorised by him in this behalf on a fixed or an agreed rate or sum:

    • On a time-basis, whether or not with reference to any route or distance; or
    • From one point to another,
    • And in either case, without stopping to pick up or set down not passengers not included in the contract anywhere during the journey, and includes:
    • A taxicab
    • A motorcar notwithstanding the separate fares is charged for its passengers.




2 (9) “driver” includes, in relation to a motor vehicle which is drawn by motor vehicle, the person who acts as a steersman of the drawn vehicle.
2 (10) “driving licence” means the licence issued by a competent authority under Chapter II authorising the person specified therein to drive, otherwise than as a learner, a motor vehicle or a motor vehicle of any specified class or description.
2 (12) “fares” includes sums payable for a season ticket or in respect of the hire of a contract carriage.
2 (13) “goods” includes live-stock, and anything (other than equipment ordinarily used with the vehicle) carried by a vehicle except living persons, include luggage or personal effects carried in a motor car or in a trailer attached to a motor car or the personal luggage of passengers travelling in the vehicle.
2 (14) “goods carriage” means vehicle constructed or adapted for use of solely for the carriage of goods, or any other vehicle not so constructed or adapted when used for the carriage of goods.
2 (15) “gross vehicle weight” means in respect of any vehicle the total weight of the vehicle and load certified and registered by the registering authority as permissible for that vehicle.
2 (16) “heavy goods vehicle” means any goods carriage the gross vehicle weight of which, or a tractor or a road-roller the unladen weight of either of which, exceeds 12,000 kilograms.
2 (17) “heavy passenger motor vehicle” means any public service vehicle or private service vehicle or educational institution bus or omnibus the gross vehicle weight of any of which, or a motor car the unladen weight of which, exceeds 12,000 kilograms.
2 (18) “invalid carriage” means a motor vehicle specially designed and constructed and not merely adapted, for the use of a person suffering from some physical defect or disability, and used solely by or for such a person.
2 (19) “learner’s licence” means the licence issued by a competent authority under Chapter II authorising the person specified therein to drive as a learner, a motor vehicle or a motor vehicle of any specified class or description.
2 (20) “licensing authority” means an authority empowered to issue licences under Chapter II or, as the case may be, Chapter Ill.
2 (21) “light motor vehicle” means a transport vehicle or omnibus the gross vehicle weight of either of which or a motor car or tractor or road-roller the unladen weight of any of which, does not exceed 7500 kilograms.
2 (21-A) “manufacturer” means a person who is engaged in the manufacture of motor vehicles.
2 (22) “taxicab” means any motor vehicle constructed or adapted to carry more than six passengers, but not more than twelve passengers, excluding the driver, for hire or reward.
2 (23) “medium goods vehicle” means any goods carriage other than a light motor vehicle or a heavy goods vehicle.
2 (24) “medium passenger motor vehicle” means any public service vehicle or private service vehicle, or educational institution bus other than a motorcycle, invalid carriage, light motor vehicle or heavy passenger motor vehicle.
2 (25) “motor cab” means any motor vehicle constructed or adapted to carry not more than six passengers excluding the driver for hire or reward.
2 (26) “motor car” means any motor vehicle other than a transport vehicle, omnibus, road-roller, tractor, motorcycle or invalid carriage.
2 (27) “motorcycle” means a two-wheeled vehicle, inclusive of any detachable side-car having an extra wheel, attached to the motor vehicle.
2 (28) “motor vehicle” or “vehicle” means any mechanically propelled vehicle adapted for use upon roads whether the power or propulsion is transmitted thereto from an external or internal source and includes a chassis to which a body has not been attached and a trailer; but does not include a vehicle running upon fixed rails or a vehicle or a special type adapted for use only in a factory or in any other enclosed premises or a vehicle having less than four wheels fitted with engine capacity of not exceeding twenty-five cubic centimetres.
2 (29) “omnibus” means any motor vehicle constructed or adapted to carry more than six persons excluding the driver.
2 (30) “owner” means a person in whose name a motor vehicle stands registered, and where such person is a minor, the guardian of such minor, and in relation to a motor vehicle which is the subject of a hire-purchase, agreement, or an agreement of lease or an agreement of hypothecation, the person in possession of the vehicle under that agreement.
2 (31) “permit” means a permit issued by a State or Regional Transport Authority or an authority prescribed in this behalf under the Motor Vehicles Act authorising the use of a motor vehicle as a transport vehicle.
2 (33) “private service vehicle” means a motor vehicle constructed or adapted to carry more than six persons excluding the driver and ordinarily used by or on behalf of the owner of such vehicle for the purpose of carrying persons for, or in connection with, his trade or business otherwise than for hire or reward but does not include a motor vehicle used for public purposes.




2 (35) “Public Service vehicle” means any motor vehicle used or adapted to be used for the carriage of passengers for hire or reward, and includes a taxi-cab, a motor cab, contract carriage, and stage carriage.
2 (38) “route” means a line of travel which specifies the highway which may be traversed by a motor vehicle between one terminus and another.
2 (43) “tourist vehicle” means a contract carriage constructed or adapted and equipped and maintained in accordance with such specifications as may be prescribed in this behalf.
2 (45) “traffic signs” includes all signals, warning signposts, direction posts, markings on the road or other devices for the information, guidance or direction for drivers of motor vehicles.

Licensing of Drivers or Motor Vehicles: Sections 3 to 28 of The Indian Motor Vehicles Act
According to Section 3, no person shall drive a motor vehicle in any public place unless he holds an effective driving licence issued to him authorising him to drive the vehicle. Further, no person shall so drive a transport vehicle other than a motor cab or motorcycle hired for his own use or rented under any scheme unless hid driving licence specifically entitles him so to do.

Under Section 4 of the Indian Motor Vehicles Act:

  • No person under the age of eighteen years shall drive a motor vehicle in any public place.
  • But, a motor with engine capacity not exceeding 50cc may be driven in a public place by a person after attaining the age of sixteen years.
  • No person under the age of twenty years shall drive a transport vehicle in any public place.

In Section 5, the responsibility of owners of motor vehicles for contravention of Sections 3 and 4 has been provided.

In Section 6, restrictions on the holding of driving licences have been stated.

In Section 7, there is a provision of restrictions on the granting of learner’s licences for certain vehicles.
Under Section 8, learner’s licence may be granted, when- (i) the person is not disqualified under Section 4; (ii) that person ordinarily resides or carries on business in the jurisdiction of the licensing authority; and (iii) that person intends to receive instructions for driving a motor from a school or institution established under Section 12.

Section 9 deals with grant of driving licence, Section 10 is regarding form and contents of licences to drive; Section 11 describes additions to driving licence and Section 12 relates to licensing and regulation of schools or establishments for imparting instructions; in the driving of motor vehicles.
Under Section 13, a learner’s licence or a driving licence shall be effective throughout India.
According to Section 14:

  • A learner’s licence shall be effective for a period of six months from the date of its issuance.
  • A driving licence issued or renewed under the Motor Vehicles Act shall
  • In the case of a licence to drive a transport vehicle, be effective for a period of three years.
  • In the case of any other licence

If the person obtaining the licence either originally or on renewal thereof, has not attained the age of fifty years on the date of issue or, as the case may be, renewal thereof-
• Be effective for a period of twenty years from the date of such issue or renewal; or
• Until the date on which such person attains the age of fifty years, whichever is earlier.

Section 15 is regarding renewal of driving licences, according to which any licensing authority may, on the application made to it, renew a driving licence with effect from the date of its expiry.
Provided that in any case where the application for the renewal of a licence is made more than thirty days after the date of its expiry, the driving licence shall be renewed with effect from the date of its renewal:
If the applicant has attained the age of forty years such application shall be accompanied by a prescribed medical certificate.

When the application for renewal has been rejected, the fee paid shall be refunded such extent in such a manner prescribed by the central Government.




Section 16 deals with the revocation of driving licence on ground of disease or disability; Section 17 relates to order refusing or revoking driving licences and appeals therefrom, whereas Section 18 is regarding driving licences to drive motor vehicles, belonging to the Central Government.
Under Section 19, if a licencing authority is satisfied giving the holder of a driving licence an opportunity of being heard, that he:

  1. Is a habitual criminal or habitual drunkard; or
  2. Is a habitual addict to any narcotic drug or psychotropic substance; or
  3. Is using or has used a motor vehicle in the commission of a cognizable offence; or
  4. Has by his previous conduct as a driver of a motor vehicle shown his driving is likely to be attended with danger to the public; or
  5. Has obtained any driving licence or a licence to drive a particular class or description of a motor vehicle by fraud or misrepresentation; or
  6. Has committed any such act which is likely to cause nuisance or danger to the public; or
  7. Has failed to submit to or has not passed the tests referred to in the provision to Sec. 22(3); or
  8. Being a person under the age of eighteen years who has been granted a learner’s licence or a driving licence with the consent in writing of the person having the care of the holder of the licence and has ceased to be in such care. It may, for reasons to be recorded in writing, make an order:
    • Disqualifying that person for a specified period for holding or obtaining any driving licence to drive all or any classes or descriptions of vehicles specified in the licence; or
    • Revoke any such licence.

In Section 20 power Of Court to disqualify a convicted person has been enumerated.

Under Section 21, where, in relation to a person who had been previously convicted of an offence punishable under Sec.184, a case is registered by a police officer on the allegation that such person has, by such dangerous driving of any class or description of motor vehicle caused the death of, or grievous hurt to, one or more persons, the driving licence held by such person shall in relation to such class or description of motor vehicle become suspended.

Section 22 relates to suspension or cancellation of driving licence on conviction.

In Section 23, the effect of disqualification-order has been mentioned; in Section 24 endorsement; and in Section 25 transfer of endorsement and issue of driving licence free from endorsement have been dealt with.

Under Section 26, each State Government shall maintain, in such form as may be prescribed by the Central Government, a register to be known as the State Register of Driving Licences, in respect of driving licences issued and renewed by the licensing authorities of the State Government, containing the following particulars, namely:

  • Names and addresses of holders of driving licences
  • Licence numbers
  • Dates of issue or renewal of licences
  • Dates of expiry of licences
  • Classes and types of vehicles authorised to be driven
  • Such other particulars as the Central Government may prescribe.

Under Sections 27 and 28, powers of the Central Government and the State Government respectively to make rules have been provided.

Also Read: The Air Act

  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

Leave a Reply

avatar
  Subscribe  
Notify of