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Thursday, March 30, 2017

On the other hand, according to the learned Amicus, permitting such vehicles to be sold or registered on or after 1st April, 2017 would constitute a health hazard to millions of our country men and women by adding to the air pollution levels in the country (which are already quite alarming).= The manufacturers of such vehicles were fully aware that eventually from 1st April, 2017 they would be required to manufacture only BS-IV compliant vehicles but for reasons that are not clear, they chose to sit back and declined to take sufficient pro-active steps. Accordingly, for detailed reasons that will follow, we direct that: (a) On and from 1st April, 2017 such vehicles that are not BS-IV compliant shall not be sold in India by any manufacturer or dealer, that is to say that such vehicles whether two wheeler, three wheeler, four wheeler or commercial vehicles will not be sold in India by any manufacturer or dealer on and from 1st April, 2017. (b) All the vehicle registering authorities under the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 are prohibited for registering such vehicles on and from 1st April, 2017 that do not meet BS-IV emission standards, except on proof that such a vehicle has already been sold on or before 31st March, 2017. As mentioned above, detailed reasons for the above order will be given in due course.

                                                                  REPORTABLE

                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
                         CIVIL ORIGINAL JURISDICTION

           I.A.NO. 487/2017, I.A. NO. 491/2017, I.A. NO. 494/2017,
                    I.A. NO. 489/2017, I.A. NO. 495/2017
                                     in
                     Writ Petition(Civil) No.13029/1985

M.C.MEHTA                                          ...PETITIONER(s)

                          VERSUS

UNION OF INDIA & ORS.                        ...RESPONDENT(s)



                                  O R D E R


      We have heard the learned Solicitor General,  learned  Amicus  Curiae,
learned counsel for the interveners who are manufacturers of  vehicles  (two
wheelers, three wheelers, four wheelers and commercial vehicles – for  short
referred to as ‘such vehicles’) and learned counsel for the  association  of
dealers of such vehicles.
      The seminal issue in  these  applications  is  whether  the  sale  and
registration and therefore the commercial  interests  of  manufacturers  and
dealers of such vehicles that do not meet the  Bharat  Stage-IV  (for  short
'BS-IV') emission standards as on 1st April, 2017  takes  primacy  over  the
health hazard due to increased air pollution of millions of our country  men
and women. The answer is quite obvious.
      The controversy relates to the sale and  registration  (on  and  after
1st April, 2017) of such vehicles lying in stock with the manufacturers  and
dealers that meet the Bharat Stage III emission standards (for short  BS-III
standards) but do not meet the BS-IV emission standards.
       Briefly,  according  to  the  manufacturers,  they  are  entitled  to
manufacture such vehicles till 31st March, 2017 and they have  done  so.  In
so doing, they say that they have not violated any prohibition or  any  law.
Hence, the sale and registration of such vehicles on  and  from  1st  April,
2017  ought  not  to  be  prohibited.  They  say  that  they  will  not   be
manufacturing any vehicle that does  not  comply  with  the  BS-IV  emission
standards from and after 1st April, 2017 and therefore  the  only  issue  is
the sale and registration of  the  existing  stock  of  such  vehicles  that
comply with BS-III emission standards. They  say  that  they  may  be  given
reasonable time to dispose of the existing stock of such vehicles.
      On the other hand, according to the learned  Amicus,  permitting  such
vehicles to be sold  or  registered  on  or  after  1st  April,  2017  would
constitute a health hazard to millions of  our  country  men  and  women  by
adding to the air pollution levels in the country (which are  already  quite
alarming). It is her submission that  the  manufacturers  of  such  vehicles
were fully aware, way back in 2010, that all vehicles would have to  convert
to BS-IV fuel on and from 1st April, 2017 and therefore, they had more  than
enough time to stop the production of BS-III compliant vehicles  and  switch
over to the manufacture of BS-IV compliant  vehicles.  In  fact,  the  major
manufacturer of 4 wheeler vehicles, Maruti Sazuki  had  completely  switched
over to the manufacture  of  BS-IV  compliant  vehicles  a  few  years  ago.
However, for reasons best  known  to  manufacturers  of  such  vehicles  and
entirely at their peril, they did not  make  a  complete  switch  (though  a
partial switch has been made)  even  though  they  had  the  technology  and
technical know-how to do so.  Therefore, keeping the larger public  interest
in mind and the potential health hazard to millions of our country  men  and
women due to increased air pollution, there is no justification for  any  of
the manufacturers  not  shifting  to  the  manufacture  of  BS-IV  compliant
vehicles well before 1st April, 2017.
      It has been brought to our  notice  that  on  5th  January,  2016  the
learned  Solicitor  General  on  behalf  of  the  Government  of  India  had
submitted before this Court that requisite quality fuel for BS-IV  compliant
vehicles would be available (all over the  country)  with  effect  from  1st
April, 2017.[1] This was confirmed and reiterated by the  learned  Solicitor
General during the course of hearing and he stated that now from 1st  April,
2017 requisite quality fuel for BS-IV compliant vehicles would be  available
all over the country. He  also  pointed  out  that  the  refineries  of  the
Government of India had incurred an expenditure of  about  Rs.30,000  crores
for producing requisite fuel for BS-IV compliant vehicles.
      On balance, in our opinion,  the  submission  of  the  learned  Amicus
deserves to be accepted keeping in mind the potential health hazard of  such
vehicles being introduced on the road affecting millions of  our  people  in
the country. The number of such  vehicles  may  be  small  compared  to  the
overall number of vehicles in the country but the health of  the  people  is
far, far more important than the commercial interests of  the  manufacturers
or the loss that they are likely to  suffer  in  respect  of  the  so-called
small number of such vehicles.  The  manufacturers  of  such  vehicles  were
fully aware that eventually from 1st April, 2017 they would be  required  to
manufacture only BS-IV compliant vehicles  but  for  reasons  that  are  not
clear, they chose to sit back and declined  to  take  sufficient  pro-active
steps.
      Accordingly, for detailed reasons that will follow, we direct that:
(a)   On and  from  1st  April,  2017  such  vehicles  that  are  not  BS-IV
compliant shall not be sold in India by any manufacturer or dealer, that  is
to say that such vehicles whether two wheeler, three wheeler,  four  wheeler
or commercial vehicles will not be sold in  India  by  any  manufacturer  or
dealer on and from 1st April, 2017.
(b)   All the vehicle registering authorities under the Motor Vehicles  Act,
1988 are prohibited for registering such vehicles on  and  from  1st  April,
2017 that do not meet BS-IV emission standards, except on proof that such  a
vehicle has already been sold on or before 31st March, 2017.
      As mentioned above, detailed reasons  for  the  above  order  will  be
given in due course.


                                             .............................J.
                                    (MADAN B. LOKUR)

                                             .............................J.
                                    (DEEPAK GUPTA)
NEW DELHI
MARCH 29, 2017
-----------------------
[1]
      [2]               M.C. Mehta v. Union of India, (2016) 4 SCC 269

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