Supreme Court bans Bharat Stage-IV compliant vehicle’s sale or registration in India from 01.04.2020. Only BS-VI compliant vehicles to be sold after cut of date
ABCAUS Case Law Citation:
ABCAUS 2590 (2018) (10) SC
In 2003, the Government of India had announced the National Auto Policy based on the recommendations of the Mashelkar Committee constituted in 2001. BS-IV compliant vehicles were made compulsory for four wheelers in different parts of the country on different dates starting from 01.04.2005. Subsequently, BSIV norms made applicable throughout the country w.e.f. 01.04.2017.
In 2017, the Hon’ble Supreme Court had directed that on and from 01.04.2017, vehicles which are not BS-IV compliant, shall not be sold. Also the registration of non BS-IV vehicle was prohibited w.e.f. 01.04.2017 except if such vehicles were sold on or before 31.03.2017.
The seminal issue in the writ petition filed before the Hon’ble Supreme Court was whether Bharat Stage IV (BSIV) compliant vehicles should be permitted to be sold in India after 31.03.2020?
Before the Hon’ble Supreme Court, the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) submitted that they should be given some time to sell the stocks of non BS-VI compliant vehicles manufactured upto 31.03.2020 following the normal practice observed in Europe in giving one year’s time when a higher quality of fuel is introduced.
It was submitted that the decision to leapfrog from BSIV fuel to BSVI fuel without shifting to BSV fuel is creating a lot of difficulties for the manufacturers.
On the other hand, the amicus curiae appointed by the Court, pleaded that no non BS-VI compliant vehicle should be permitted to be sold in the entire country after 01.04.2020.
The Hon’ble Supreme Court noted that The Union Government has spent about Rs.30,000 crores to manufacture BSIV compliant fuel. We have been informed that another Rs. 30,000/crores of the taxpayers’ money have been expended by the Union to ensure that the fuel available in the country is BSVI compliant. The fuel has already been made available in the National Capital Territory (NCT) of Delhi from 01.04.2018 and we have been informed that barring a few places, it shall be available in the entire NCR from 01.04.2019.
The Hon’ble Supreme Court opined that some of the manufacturers are not willing to comply with the 31.03.2020 deadline not because they do not have the technology but because the use of technology will lead to increase in the cost of the vehicles which may lead to reduction in sales of the vehicles and ultimately their profit.
The Hon’ble Supreme Court stated that there can be no compromise with the health of the citizens and if one has to choose between health and wealth , keeping in view the expanded scope of Article 21 of the Constitution, health of the teeming millions of this country will have to take precedence over the greed of a few automobile manufacturers.
Comparing the BS-VI fuel with BS-IV fuel, the Hon’ble Supreme Court observed that there is a massive improvement in environmental terms. Once BS-VI emission norms are enforced, there will be a 68% improvement in PM 2.5 which is not a small change.
The Hon’ble Supreme Court expressed that the problem of pollution is not limited to the NCR of Delhi but it is a problem which has engulfed the entire country especially the major cities. India has the dubious distinction of having 15 out of the 20 most polluted cities in the world. The pollution in Gwalior, Raipur & Allahabad is worse than Delhi. The situation is alarming and critical. It brooks no delay.
The Hon’ble Supreme Court said that the right to life, as envisaged under Article 21 of the Constitution of India includes the right to a decent environment. It includes within its ambit the right of a citizen to live in a clean environment. It has been held that the right to clean environment is a fundamental right . The right to live in an environment free from smoke and pollution follows from the “quality” of life which is an inherent part of Article 21 of the Constitution. Therefore, if there is a conflict between health and wealth, obviously, health will have to be given precedence.
The Hon’ble Supreme Court observed that the Government has been proactive in spending huge amounts of money to move to the BS-VI technology, but on the other hand, the automobile industry is coming up with a variety of untenable excuses just to delay the introduction of BS-VI compliant vehicles by a few months.
The Hon’ble Supreme Court opined that the Government has developed a policy of phasing out polluting vehicles and discouraging the manufacturers of polluting vehicles which has been done in a gradual manner. Europe introduced Euro-IV fuel in the year 2009 and Euro-VI standards in 2015. We are already many years behind them. We cannot afford to fall back further even by a single day. The need of the hour is to move to a cleaner fuel as early as possible.
Therefore, in exercise of the power under Article 142 of the Constitution, the Hon’ble Supreme Court directed that sub rule 21 of Rule 115 of the Central Motor Vehicle Rules, 1989 shall be interpreted and understood to read that no motor vehicle conforming to the emission standard Bharat Stage-IV shall be sold or registered in the entire country with effect from 01.04.2020.