A PUC or “Pollution Under Control” certificate has now been made mandatory for renewal of motor insurance. Although a valid PUC certificate was always important for using any vehicle on public road, its linkage with the insurance renewal is a nascent step. The PUC certificate is a kind of fitness certificate for your vehicle, which confirms that your vehicle is in a fit state to be used in public, as far as compliance with air-pollution and emission norms are concerned. The Motor Vehicles Act 1988 itself makes it a punishable offence to use any vehicle in public place without complying with the standards prescribed in relation to air pollution. Now that a direct link has been created between motor insurance and PUC, you should always keep your PUC Certificate updated for getting your car or bike insurance renewal.

A Pollution-Under-Control certificate is provided by competent authorities on the basis of a pollution test of the vehicle. You need to get the first test done before the expiry of one year from the date of registration of your vehicle.  The Motor Vehicles Rules 1989 lays down that “After the expiry of a period of one year from the date on which the motor vehicle was first registered, every such vehicle shall carry a valid ‘Pollution under control’ certificate issued by an agency authorized for this purpose.” Once a PUC certificate is generated after the pollution test of the vehicle, it remains valid for 6 months, and needs to be renewed before its expiry. A PUC Certificate should always be carried in the vehicle as any police officer may demand to check such certificate at any time, and it becomes an obligation of the vehicle owner to produce the certificate on such demand.

Before 2017, although possessing a PUC certificate was mandatory, its production at the time of car and bike insurance renewal was not always required. But then the Supreme Court of India, in the case of M.C. Mehta V. Union of India, 1985, delved deep into the question of rising air pollution in the Country, and thereby mandated the linkage of PUC Certificate with motor insurance renewals. Consequently, the Insurance Regulatory Development Authority of India (IRDAI) issued a circular based on such direction of the Court, requiring all General Insurance Companies to ensure that the vehicle holds a valid PUC certificate at the time of renewal of motor insurance.

 In a way, the Government and the Judiciary has taken significant steps in addressing the need of the hour, i.e., air-pollution. While on one hand, having a PUC Certificate and motor insurance are both mandatory under the law, a linkage between the two will further ensure stronger compliance with the pollution norms. Hence, if you are looking for your car insurance or bike insurance renewal, keep in mind to have a valid “pollution under control” certificate handy. However, while a PUC certificate is necessary for renewal of insurance, the IRDAI has also made it clear that non-possession of PUC certificate at the time of accidents shall not bar an insurance policyholder from claiming the insured amount in any way.

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