SC orders sale of only BS VI vehicles from April 2020

SC said once BS-VI emission norms are enforced, there will be a 68% improvement in PM2.5. Representative image

The Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered that only those vehicles conforming to cleaner Bharat Stage VI emission norms will be sold from April 1, 2020 in the country.

A bench of Justices Madan B Lokur, S Abdul Nazeer and Deepak Gupta said once BS-VI emission norms are enforced, there will be a 68% improvement in PM2.5 (fine particular matter in the air).

"This is not a small change. It is a vast improvement and the faster it is brought, the better it is," the bench said, after noting that the Union government has already spent Rs 30,000 crore to produce BS VI compliant fuel, already available in Delhi from April 1, this year. It has already been decided to leapfrog from BS IV to BS VI without shifting to BS V.

The top court noted that March 31, 2020 is almost one and half years away. “There is sufficient time for the manufacturers to change over to the new system and, therefore, we see no reason why they should be given a window of three or six months for sale of accumulated vehicles of the BS IV norms,” Justice Gupta, writing the judgement in a PIL by environmental lawyer M C Mehta, said.

The Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers and others sought more time to sell their non BS VI compliant vehicles. The court, however, used its extraordinary power under the Constitution to read down provisions of the Central Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989 which permitted registration of BS IV vehicles till June 30, 2020.

The court asserted that if there is a conflict between health and wealth, obviously, health will have to be given precedence as the automobile manufacturers were already selling BS VI compliant vehicles in European and other countries.

“When we are concerned with the health of not one citizen but the entire citizenry including the future citizens of the country, the larger public interest has to outweigh the much smaller pecuniary interest of the industry, in this case the automobile industry, especially when the entire wherewithal to introduce the cleaner technology exists,” the court said.

Having noted that the Euro VI standards have been introduced in 2015, the court told the automobile manufacturers to show “will, urgency and responsibility” here.

“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,” the bench said, noting the number of vehicles are rising everyday and even smaller cities are affected with the air pollution.

It also relied upon the WHO's database stating more than 4,300 cities including Gwalior, Allahabad, Raipur, Delhi, Ludhiana, Khanna, Varanasi and Patna were the most polluted in the world.

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SC orders sale of only BS VI vehicles from April 2020

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