The Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered that only Bharat Stage VI compliant vehicles will be sold from April 1, 2020, as there can be no compromise with the health of the citizens.
A bench headed by Justice Madan B Lokur said no BS IV vehicles shall be sold with effect from April 1, 2020.
“Once BS VI emission norms are enforced, there will be a 68 per cent improvement in PM2.5. This is not a small change. It is a vast improvement and the faster it is brought, the better it is,” the bench said, refusing to extend the deadline for manufacturers to switch from BS IV compliant vehicles to BS VI.
The top court also prohibited all vehicle registering authorities from registering BS IV compliant vehicles from April 1, 2020.
“No motor vehicle conforming to the emission standard Bharat Stage IV shall be sold or registered in the entire country with effect from April 1, 2020,” said the apex court.
Bharat stage emission standards are emission standards instituted by the Centre to regulate the output of air pollutants from motor vehicles.
In 2016, the Indian government announced that the country would skip the BS V norms altogether and adopt BS VI norms by 2020.
The manufacturers had moved the apex court seeking more time to switch from BS-IV to BS-VI and to exhaust their existing inventory of BS-IV vehicles.
“We are dealing here with a situation where children and unborn children suffer from pollution and issues of inter generational equity are involved. Do we as a society or as manufacturers of automobiles have a right to manufacture more polluting vehicles when we have the technology to manufacture less polluting vehicles? The answer is obviously a big NO. If we were to factor only economics even then it makes no economic sense to have more polluting vehicles on the roads,” the bench argued.
“The effect of pollution on the environment and health is so huge that it cannot be compensated in the marginal extra profits that the manufacturers might make. The amount spent on countering the ills of pollution such as polluted air, damaged lungs and the cost of healthcare far outweighs the profits earned,” it added.
The apex court opined that March 31, 2020 is almost one-and-a-half years away and there is sufficient time for the manufacturers to change over to the new system. “Therefore, we see no reason why they should be given a window of three or six months for sale of accumulated vehicles,” said the top court.
It was further of the view that every vehicle sold after the scheduled date of April 1, 2020 is “bound to cause more pollution” and, therefore, the manufacturers “cannot be permitted to sell any non BS-VI compliant vehicle on or after April 1, 2020”.
“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. The automobile manufacturers must behave responsibly,” it added.
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