Ramasmy Rides in India: A Precedent is Set for Vehicle Adaptation

R. Ramasamy (42), an MBA graduate and practising lawyer, who was paralysed below his waist about 17 years ago, will drive again, thanks to the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court.

Despite his condition, Mr. Ramasamy wanted to drive. He approached an automobile mechanic to modify his car as well as a two-wheeler. He wanted the clutch, brake and accelerator to be operated with hands. The mechanic obliged -- he mounted the acceleration control on the gear shaft and placed the brake control, using a lever, below it. The clutch could be activated by pushing down the lever attached to the gear rod.

His two-wheeler did not have to undergo much alteration, but for attaching two extra wheels.

Even as the lawyer was looking forward to drive, Regional Transport Officials here refused to register the vehicles without the approval of the Automotive Research Association of India, Pune.

The ARAI informed him that approval could be given only to company manufactured vehicles.

The lawyer filed a writ petition before the Madras High Court Bench here. Accepting his arguments, Justice Prafulla Kumar Misra held that government officials could not refuse to register vehicles altered by local mechanics to suit the needs of physically challenged or to issue driving licence for such vehicles.

"A manufacturer of a particular type of vehicle may not think of manufacturing 'invalid carriage' (vehicle for physically challenged) on account of economic factors such as lack of demand... Even assuming that invalid carriages were still being manufactured, I do not find any restriction in altering a normal vehicle and re-registering it," he said.

The officials were directed to consider the lawyer's applications for registration as well as driving licence afresh in the light of the observations made in the order and to take an appropriate decision within four weeks.


Ramasamy will enjoy his drive again


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