The sticky business of Delhi’s colour-coded stickers, high-security registration plates for cars

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Updated: December 17, 2020 3:02 PM

Why threaten vehicle owners with high fines in the middle of a pandemic to come out in droves to get a colour-coded sticker worth Rs 100?

Colour coded fuel stickerVehicles in Delhi-NCR are required to get a colour-coded fuel sticker in addition to high-security registration plates.

If you live in the Delhi-NCR region, there’s no avoiding the commotion that high-security registration plates and colour-coded fuel stickers have brought about among vehicle owners. This isn’t new. High-security registration plates (HSRPs) have been mandatory for vehicles sold in Delhi since 2012. In fact, almost all vehicles sold through dealerships in Delhi since then would have come fitted with HSRPs. What’s new are the colour-coded stickers denoting vehicle fuel type.

HSRPs were introduced to standardise the size and font on number plates on vehicles, while also adding security features that made them theft-proof and tamper-proof. These included a reflective base, laser engraved serial number on the plate, a hologram, hot-stamped “India” watermarking over the lettering, and tamper-proof snap-off rivets. These features also make these plates easy to read by speed-detection cameras and automatic toll-gate camera systems.

In addition to the number plates, a third registration mark or a self-destructing, security sticker affixed on the windshields of four-wheelers, buses, and trucks has also been a part of the security system to ensure vehicles are relatively theft-proof. This was earlier a white or translucent sticker that would tear away if removed from the windshield. It contained the vehicle’s registration number and serial numbers of the plates.

The issue is with this sticker.

The white or translucent sticker has to be changed or for those who don’t have it, it has to be bought afresh, as vehicles registered prior to April 2019 did not have a colour-coded sticker – blue for petrol or CNG vehicles and orange for diesel vehicles. That leaves about 30 lakh four-wheelers out of Delhi’s 1.12 crore registered vehicles (including two-wheelers) to buy these colour-coded stickers. Not displaying this sticker entails a fine of Rs 10,000 compoundable to Rs 5,500 for the offence. The traffic department has started a drive to enforce this rule.

Also read: What is Delhi’s Rs 400-crore Number Plate Scam: All we know so far

The trouble is the timing of this move. While a notification was issued in September to get colour-coded stickers and HSRPs affixed on all vehicles in Delhi, the plates and stickers can only be sourced from a single entity – a private entity called Rosmerta Technologies that runs the website The sudden spike in demand for HSRPs and stickers for older vehicles led to the site crashing on Wednesday, 16 December.

Even then, the site does not have all the vehicle models listed on it. Brands such as Mitsubishi, Isuzu, and BMW have been left out of the list. The FAQs on the site ask users to contact their respective vehicle dealers to source the sticker or plates. Dealers, in turn, have to source it from the same vendor – Rosmerta Technologies. It raises the question, why has the government outsourced the issuing of 30 lakh plus stickers and HSRPs to just a single entity?

The second issue is with the need for a colour-coded third-registration sticker.

It’s a move that is redundant. If the purpose was to identify the fuel type of the vehicle, that data is easily available on This centralised vehicle registration database tells you not just vehicle type and owner’s name but also includes information like fuel type, Bharat stage compliance, validity of pollution-under-control (PUC) certificate, insurance validity and fitness certificate validity. To get this information for any vehicle a law-enforcement officer or any person just needs to search for the vehicle number in the database.

Why threaten 30 lakh vehicle owners with high fines in the middle of a pandemic to come out in droves just for a sticker worth Rs 100? It’s an inconvenience that could have easily been avoided at this point in time.

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