According to the 2011 Census report, there are over 2 crore people in India with physical disabilities. Despite being a huge number, there is only a very small percentage of these people who drive a vehicle. The introduction of various subsidies along with toll tax exemption, free FASTag facility, and excise duty concession will help people with disabilities to drive their vehicles and become independent.
In India, the Regional Transport Office (RTO) is responsible for issuing driving licenses and regulating motor vehicles. The RTO has rules and regulations in place to ensure that road users are safe and adhere to traffic laws. Additionally, the Indian government provides various subsidies for persons with disabilities to help them purchase vehicles that are equipped with disability-friendly features.
In this article, we will discuss various RTO rules and subsidies available for the handicapped in India.
RTO Rules for Handicapped Drivers in India
The RTO has specific rules in place for handicapped drivers. These rules apply to individuals having a permanent disability of 40% and more. As per RTO rules, the vehicle used by a handicapped person must have special adaptations and modifications that allow them to operate it safely. For example, the vehicle may need to have a hand-operated accelerator or brake, or it may require additional mirrors to enhance the driver’s visibility.
Additionally, handicapped drivers are required to undergo a medical examination to assess their ability to drive a vehicle safely. The RTO also requires handicapped drivers to have a valid driving license that is issued based on their medical examination and driving test results.
Subsidy for Handicapped Drivers in India
The Indian government offers various subsidies for persons with disabilities (including 21 identified disabilities) to help them purchase vehicles that are equipped with disability-friendly features. These subsidies are provided under the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPwD).
To be eligible for the subsidy, the applicant must be a person with a disability with a minimum of 40% disability as per the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016. The maximum subsidy available is 50% of the actual cost of the purchase of petrol/diesel provided.
To avail of the subsidy, the applicant must submit an application to the DEPwD along with the required documents, including proof of disability, proof of income, and proof of vehicle purchase.
Some of the additional benefits provided to handicapped drivers in India
Exemption on Toll Tax
The Ministry of Road Transport & Highways of India (MoRTH) has asked Indian states to extend exemptions on paying toll and road tax benefits to people with orthopedic disabilities. To avail of these benefits, vehicle owners with physical disabilities need to register vehicles under the ownership category as “Divyangjan”.
As per the recent notification issued on 30th December 2020, vehicles specially designed for people with disabilities in India are 100% exempted from paying toll tax. The exemption is applicable at all state borders and toll plazas on all
Free FASTag Service
The Government of India issues free FASTag service for the vehicle registered as an Adaptive Vehicle category in the RC book. This free tag allows handicapped drivers to pass through the toll booth in a matter of a few seconds without spending much time at the toll plazas. Handicapped persons have to present support documents to get free FASTag from any FASTag issuing bank and they don’t have to pay anything to recharge their FASTag.
There are a few Indian states that also offer FASTag at discounted rates (instead of a free Fastag facility) for handicapped individuals. To get a FASTag exemption, a disabled person must submit a letter of request stating the same to the concerned RTO.
However, it is important to keep in mind that FASTag isn’t actually issued for handicapped individuals but for vehicles registered under the “Adaptive Vehicle” category.
GST and Excise Duty Concessions on the Purchase of a Vehicle
The Indian government offers a discount on the purchase of vehicles for handicapped individuals under the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPwD).
To avail of the discount or concessions, the handicapped individual must meet certain eligibility criteria. The vehicle purchased must be specially designed or modified to meet the requirements of the handicapped individual. The discount available varies from state to state. The Ministry of Finance offers an excise duty concessional rate of 8% for the set rate of 16% and 24%:
- (a) on four-wheelers being able to be driven by the disabled person (coverage to 21 identified disabilities.)
- (b) on vehicles that have been suitably designed or modified to be driven by orthopedic handicapped
- (c) on vehicles meant for physically disabled people
In addition to the excise duty concessions, the Indian government also provides a GST waiver of up to 10% that can be availed through a GST certificate. A disabled person in possession of a GST certificate will only have to pay 18% GST with no cess while purchasing a vehicle, instead of the 28% GST and applicable cess. The GST certificate issued by the Department of Heavy Industries (DHI) will remain valid for 3 months and the issuance process of the certificate may take up to 4 weeks.
In conclusion, the RTO has rules and regulations in place to ensure the safety of handicapped drivers on the roads. The Indian government also provides subsidies to help persons with disabilities purchase vehicles that are equipped with disability-friendly features. These measures are aimed at promoting accessibility and inclusivity for persons with disabilities and enabling them to lead independent and fulfilling lives. Handicapped individuals should check with their state’s RTO or the DEPwD to understand the specific rules and benefits available to them.