The Bombay High Court on Friday issued notice in a PIL seeking directions to the State and Registrar of Cooperative Societies for issuance of guidelines for installation of electric vehicle charging stations within cooperative housing societies.
The petition, filed by one Amit Dholakia, impleads the Central and Maharashtra governments, as well as Registrar of Cooperative Societies, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport Undertaking (BEST) as respondents.
"There is a regulatory and legislative vacuum governing the installation of electric vehicle charging infrastructure in existing co-operative housing societies," the petition contends.
A division bench of Justice S. V. Gangapurwala and Justice S. G. Dige posted the matter for further hearing on January 06, 2023.
According to the petition, when Dholakia requested for a no-objection certificate for a new electric power connection in his garage exclusively for charging his electric vehicle, his cooperative housing society rejected the request stating the there is no policy for individual members to install the electric meter for electric vehicle charger.
He filed the petition after coming across other instances of various housing societies denying permission to install charging infrastructure for EVs, the petition states.
The petition cites the central Government's National Mission on Electric Mobility, 2011 and the National Mobility Mission Plan 2013 which have been framed to accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles.
The petition also refers to Model Building By-Laws and the Urban Regional Development Plans Formulation and Implementation Guidelines, 2014 framed by the central government which provide for establishing electric vehicle charging infrastructure in residential buildings.
According to the petition, the state government also formed the Maharashtra Electric Vehicle Policy, 2001 (MEV Policy) which provided fiscal and non-fiscal incentives to accelerate the adoption and manufacture of electric vehicles in Maharashtra.
Despite all of this, the Development Control And Promotion Regulations 2034 (DCPR) under the Maharashtra Regional and Town Planning Act, 1966 do not contain any provision for electric vehicle charging infrastructure, the petition submits.
Further, no steps have been taken to implement the MEV Policy, 2021 in Mumbai, according to the petition.
There is no provision for existing residential buildings regarding the provision of EV charging infrastructure. The MEV Policy 2021 and the central government policies are for new developments and not existing residential buildings. This creates an arbitrary and discriminatory lacuna violating Article 14 of the Constitution, the petition contends.
It is necessary that suitable provisions are made in the DCPR 2034 according to the policies of the central and state governments regarding electric vehicles, the petition states.
According to the petition, the Registrar and the state should amend the model by-laws for cooperative housing society to provide for mandatory electric vehicle charging facilities and infrastructure and ensure that the MEV Policy 2021 as well as central government policies promoting electric vehicles are implemented.
The failure of the Registrar to direct amendment of by-laws of a society under Section 14 of the MCS Act and failure of the state government to exercise its power when required under section 79A of the MCS Act is "arbitrary, unreasonable and illegal, and is violative of Article 14 of the Constitution, the petition argues.
The failure of the state government to implement the MEV Policy 2021 causes degradation of the environment as people will not buy electric vehicles if they don't have access to sufficient charging infrastructure. This violates petitioner's right to a clean and healthy environment under Article 21 of the Constitution, the petition argues.
The petition further states that electricity is an integral part of the right to life under Article 21. The Electricity Act, 2003 also provides that a connection must be provided to the applicant within one month of application. Therefore, the inaction of the state government and Registrar to implement the MEV Policy and the refusal of the housing society to grant permission is violative of petitioner's right to electricity.
Not having sufficient charging infrastructure effectively renders the electric vehicle useless and limits the petitioner's ability to travel in the EV. Thus, the failure of the State Government and the Registrar to implement the MEV Policy as leads to violation of Article 19(1)(d) of the Constitution, the petition contends.
According to the petition, the petitioner's right under Article 300A of the Constitution to enjoy his property has been violated by denying permission to install EV charging infrastructure in his garage without any cogent reason.
Therefore, the petition prays that the court frame appropriate guidelines for the provision of charging infrastructure in cooperative housing societies till the State government or the registrar under section 14 or section 79A of the MCS Act respectively take appropriate action to fill this vacuum.
The petition has also sought directions to the state government to implement the MEV Policy and make appropriate amendments to the DCPR, 2034.
Case no. – Public Interest Litigation (L) No. 32727 of 2022
Case title – Amit Dholakia & Anr. v. State of Maharashtra & Ors.