Thiruvananthapuram: The costliest registration number in the state is KL-01-CB-1 which has been bagged by Devi Pharma managing director K.S. Balagopal for Rs 18 lakh for his Land Cruiser worth around Rs 1.5 crore. KL-08-BL-1 was so far the costliest registration number that was bagged by Qatar-based businessman Raleef for Rs 16.15 lakh for a Range Rover Evoque gifted by him to his wife Ancy on their wedding anniversary in November last. Incidentally, the auction for KL-01-CB-1 took place close on the heels of Transport Commissioner S. Aananthakrishnan initiating strict measures to curb malpractices in the registration number auction.
Apart from Mr. Balagopal, four other vehicle owners participated in the auction for KL-01-CB-1 that was held in the presence of regional transport officer Murali Krishnan. The others were Abdul Karim, W. Renju Kumar and Subhagar Vasudevan. While Subhagar offered up to Rs. 10,02,000, Abdul Karim offered only Rs. 3,00,000. Sources said that after Subhagar quoted Rs. 10.02 lakh, Balagopal quoted Rs. 12 lakh. Though no others quoted a higher amount, he himself raised the amount to Rs. 18 lakh, setting the new record.
It is learnt that Balagopal's request for the fancy number was initially rejected by the motor vehicles authorities citing technical reasons after fresh restrictions were prescribed for participating in the auction. But the application was later cleared as it was found to be following norms. This had prompted Balagopal to raise the auction amount by Rs. 6 lakh. With the initial booking amount of Rs. 1 lakh, the MVD received Rs. 19 lakh from Mr. Balagopal. He had paid Rs. 24 lakh as road tax for the vehicle. Meanwhile, the department received about Rs. 25 lakh from over 25 registration number auctions at different regional transport offices across the state. It may be recalled that registration number KL-01-CA-1 was bagged by NRI businessman Yusuff Ali for Rs. 1, 20,000.