We cannot be asked to shut our eyes to the phenomenal rise in pollution levels in the country, the court said.
The Supreme Court has reiterated that from April 1, 2017, only such vehicles that comply with BS-IV standards shall be manufactured, sold and registered across the country.
A bench comprising Justice Madan B Lokur and Justice Deepak Gupta dismissed the intervention applications by vehicle manufacturers who contended that they were entitled to sell such vehicles any time on or after April 1, 2017 until the accumulated stock is exhausted.
On March 29, the Supreme Court had banned the sale and registration of pollution-causing BS-III compliant vehicles across the country from April 1 when BS-IV emission norms will come into force.
The bench observed that the office memorandum cannot reasonably be interpreted as a carte blanche to the automobile industry to continue the manufacture of BS-III compliant vehicles till the very last day and then plead the necessity of clearing accumulated stock of BS-III vehicles.
“This would make a mockery of the efforts of all concerned in regulating vehicular emissions and virtually enabling the interveners to emasculate an important component of the right to life guaranteed by Article 21 of the Constitution, namely, the entitlement of millions of our country men and women to breathe less polluted air and ignore public health issues in conducting their business. We cannot be asked to shut our eyes to the phenomenal rise in pollution levels in the country,” the bench said.
Amicus had sought prohibition on the sale and registration of BS-III compliant vehicles on and from April 1, 2017. The bench agreed with his submissions and said: “Given that the life of such vehicles would be at least 10 years (as submitted by the interveners) the concern is not only for the present population of the country but for future generations who also have an entitlement to breathe pollution free air. This is what sustainable development and inter-generational equity is all about. Do we really want to leave behind drastically polluted air to be breathed in this case at least for the next between 10 and 15 years?”
The court also observed that the Government of India has expended, through its refineries, about Rs. 30,000 crore for implementing the auto fuel policy along with the recommendations of the expert committee in making BS-IV quality fuel available positively by April 1, 2017, in keeping with the stated objective of ‘One country, One fuel’ in the shortest possible time.
“Such a huge investment from the tax payers’ earnings cannot be defeated only with a view to sub serve the interest of the automobile industry which, as discussed by the Parliamentary Standing Committee, has become one of the major causes in the phenomenal rise of air pollution in India,” the court said.
Dismissing the applications of vehicle manufacturers, the court said: “It is time to realise that a collective effort is needed to clear up the air. In this process, the interveners have a huge role and they should now wake up to their responsibility for the benefit of all of us.”
Read the Judgment here.