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The Delhi High Court on Friday asked the Centre and the city government to place before it the rules on the use of the State Emblem of India on cars of constitutional authorities and dignitaries, such as the President, instead of registration numbers.
A Bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C. Hari Shankar sought to know the exact position on the issue while posting the case for further hearing on December 20.
NGO Nyayabhoomi claimed that the practice of displaying the State Emblem, instead of the registration numbers, makes the cars conspicuous and the dignitaries become easy targets for terrorists and anyone with malicious intent.
“The practice of replacing the registration mark with the State Emblem of India, instead of displaying them both is arbitrary and symptomatic of the desire to rule rather than to serve,” the petition alleged.
It further sought directions to the Delhi government and the Delhi Police to seize the cars used by the Rashtrapati Bhavan, Vice-President, Raj Niwas and Protocol Division of the Ministry of External Affairs for not being registered under the Motor Vehicles Act. The NGO referred to an RTI response by the Ministry of External Affairs saying that none of the 14 cars maintained by its Protocol Division was registered.
It also claimed that the Rashtrapati Bhavan refused to give details of the registration numbers of its cars on the ground that disclosure of this information would endanger the security of the State and life and physical safety of the President.
It said that a person meeting with an accident involving such a car cannot bring any claim against it due to the absence of any identification mark.
Emirati businessman Majid Mustafa is now the proud owner of the distinctive Dubai car plate number AA10 after posting the winning bid of Dh3.12m during the Roads and Transport Authority's (RTA) 97th open auction on Saturday.
The RTA's year-end auction, which raised a total of Dh12.75m, saw nine other AA code plates, including 12, 50, 100, 333, 786, 1000, 8888, 11111, and 55555 going under the hammer.
In an exclusive interview with Khaleej Times after the bidding, Mustafa said he will keep AA10 for his personal use and will mount it on one of his cars.
Mustafa, who has been participating in RTA auctions since 2002, said he has owned a total of 5,000 special plates, many of which he has traded and gained profitable margins. The most expensive plate he has acquired to date was I10 which he got for Dh6m.
The second most expensive plate on Saturday went to Essa Al Habbai who grabbed AA12 for Dh2.72m. Another Emirati won the bidding for the third most expensive plate AA50, priced at Dh1.84m, while 44-year-old Lebanese expat Zaherchafie acquired AA11111 for Dh1.21m.
Another Emirati businessman, 32-year-old Jaber Khamis, who participated in the RTA auction for only the second time got his hands on AA333 for Dh700,000. In RTA's previous auction he got a special plate for Dh500,000 and was able to enjoy a Dh200,000 profit after a couple of months.
"The plate (AA333) is really special. I will mount it on my Lamborghini but I might also sell it if I find the right buyer who will offer a really price," he told Khaleej Times.
At the auction, the RTA has also unveiled the new design for Dubai car plates which bear the Dubai brand logo and the letters and digits printed in black on white background.
Ahmed Bahrozyan, CEO of RTA's licensing agency, said the RTA will start replacing the existing plates of light vehicles by the newly designed plates with two-letter codes from February 2018 because the stock of single-code distinctive plates is about to be exhausted.
"But the owners will enjoy exclusivity of the two-letter codes for one year. We've only introduced 10 special numbers with AA codes and we will ensure that these two-letter codes will not be sold for one year to exclusivity to those who bought these distinguished plates," he said.
How popular any name or initial it contains is: You are more likely to get good money for a registration plate that spells out a name like 5UE than you are with a more unusual name, simply because there is more demand for Sue (or Dave or Mel) than there would be for Hector, Primrose or Zebedee
How valuable the letters and numbers the plate contains are: in terms of numbers, lower numbers with fewer digits tend to be the most valuable when reselling personalised number plates, making BOB 1 more valuable than BOB 379. Sequential numbers (123, 456 etc.) and repeated numbers (444, 88) are more popular than random combinations, and special occasion numbers like 18 and 21 can also boost a number plate’s value a little. In terms of the letters in a number plate, the likelihood of a series of letters being a name or a person’s initials increases the value of the plate, too.
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