The Supreme Court has granted a limited relief with respect to the registration of BS-IV vehicles.
"There are still stated to be a large number of sales which have been made and uploaded on the E-Vaahan Portal, even temporary registrations were made. Their registration during the lockdown period could not be made. Hence, we allow registration of such vehicles only which could not be registered during lockdown in the month of March, 2020 and for no other reason", ordered a bench comprising Justices Arun Mishra, BR Gavai and Krishna Murari.
Furthermore, the Supreme Court went on to clarify, in no uncertain terms, that the Order for allowing registration applied to the entire country, but not Delhi-NCR. It has been categorically laid down that there will be absolutely no registration of BS-IV vehicles in Delhi-NCR post-March 31, 2020.
"However, the position of Delhi and NCR is different. We clarify our order dated 27.03.2020 to the effect that no registration of BS-IV vehicles is to be made in Delhi and NCR as people are suffering from severe air pollution and the order passed by this Court in 2018 was clear. No vehicle of BS-IV in Delhi and NCR to be registered.
We order that in the Delhi and NCR, no registration of the vehicles of BS-IV is to be made after 31.03.2020", the Court stated in the order, which was released today.
During the hearing on August 13, ASG Aishwarya Bhati informed Court that details of 39,000 vehicles had not been uploaded, but besides that, rest of the vehicles had been traced and their details were on available on the E-Vaahan portal.
Appearing on behalf of the Federation of Automobile Dealers Association (FADA), Senior Advocate KV Vishwanathan sought registration of vehicles that had been sold till May 31, citing losses to dealers. He also apprised the Court of the troubles faced by certain purchasers, who had booked the vehicles online but could not register the same during the lockdown period or had not taken delivery of the vehicles.
With regard to the sales of vehicles during lockdown, Justice Mishra was stern with regard to compliance of previous Court Orders, according to which sales would only be allowed till March 31, 2020. With the lockdown coming into play, effectively only those sales that were made prior to March 25 would be considered.
Outrightly refusing to allow FADA's request for registration of sales up till May 31, Justice Mishra remarked, "you have made more sales during lockdown. Don't play fraud with the Court!"
He went on to question the sales that took place post announcement of the lockdown. "How many sales took place during lockdown? How could we allow those sales...we only allowed you a grace period during lockdown..we did not allow sales as such", he added.
Vishwanathan apprised the Court that there were sales because the purchasers had certain Mahurats (auspicious times) in which they would choose to make transactions.
"Many such sales took place…people have these beliefs…they see mahurat before purchasing…till today I take my new car to the temple.. people believe in mahurat", he said.
He also informed that the registration process also got pushed back because many purchasers who booked vehicles online, deferred delivery of the same on account of Mahurats.
"We will unmahurat it then.
What is this mahurat and all that…how can we allow mahurat sales…during lockdown, all these things can't be considered, these 'mahurat purchases'.
…There might have been mahurats for weddings, but they could not happen right? Law must take precedence over these things", responded an unimpressed Justice Mishra.
With this, the Court disallowed registration of sales of BS IV vehicles which took place in contravention of the Top Court's October, 2018 Order allowing sales only upto March 31, 2020.
"…there are large number of vehicles, sales of which were not uploaded on E-Vaahan Portal. Since, sales were not uploaded, as required, the transactions cannot be recognised as genuine sales. The order passed by this Court on 24.10.2018 is clear that sale and registration of BS-IV vehicles shall not be allowed after 31.03.2020. We cannot allow the registration of such vehicles, sales of which were not uploaded on E-Vaahan Portal of the Central Government or the portal of the concerned State Government." -noted Supreme Court in its Order.
Having clarified this, the Court, however, took note of the difficulties faced in registering certain vehicles on account of the nationwide lockdown. Keeping this in mind, the Apex Court has allowed registration only for those vehicles which could not be registered during the lockdown.
The Court elaborated that it had allowed registration of BS IV vehicles which had been sold in Indian before the nationwide lockdown, but could not be properly registered, as per procedure, due to the same.
It was made amply clear that this relaxation in registration was being allowed only because of the lockdown and must not to be construed in any other way or used for any other purpose, or for the registration of any other vehicle which was not done due to other reasons.
On July 31, recalled its March 27 order which allowed sale of 10% of unsold BS-IV vehicles for ten days after the lockdown, in areas except Delhi-NCR, after noting that the automobile dealers sold such vehicles during the lockdown in violation of the order.
Following the recall of the order, the bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra held that such vehicles sold during lockdown should not be treated as sold, and that the consideration received should be refunded to the purchasers. The Court also ordered that no such vehicle sold after March 31 should be registered.
"...the vehicles shall be treated to be with dealers as if they are not sold and consideration if any received shall be returned forthwith to the purchasers, no such vehicles sold after 31.03.2020 of BS-IV technology shall be registered", the bench had ordered then
In July, Supreme Court also took exception to FADA's request to allow dealers to return unsold inventory to the manufacturers so that they could be exported to other countries.
To put this in context, it must be noted that on March 27, the Top Court had permitted the sale of 10 per cent of unsold BS-IV vehicles to make up for six days lost due to the nationwide lockdown. However, on July 8, this Order was recalled on account of misuse of the Order, whereby more vehicles were sold than was permissible.
As this was brought to the Court's notice, the Order was recalled, following which registration was banned on July 31.
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