SC rules out extension of BS-VI deadline beyond 1 April 2020
25 October 2018
The Supreme Court has ruled that no Bharat Stage IV vehicle shall be sold or registered across the country with effect from 1 April 2020, saying any delay in introducing the new emission norms would adversely impact the health of citizens as the pollution has reached an "alarming and critical" level.
The government has mandated that Bharat Stage VI (or BS-VI) emission norm be implemented from 1 April 2020 across the country. The Bharat Stage emission standards are introduced by the government to regulate the output of air pollutants from motor vehicles.
A three-judge bench headed by Justice Madan B Lokur made it clear that only BS-VI compliant vehicle shall be sold in the country from 1 April 2020.
In fact, the Apex court bench said the need of the hour was to move to a cleaner fuel.
BS IV norms are in force across the country since April 2017. In 2016, the centre had announced that the country would jump to BS-VI norms by 2020, skipping the BS-V norms altogether.
The apex court said there cannot be any compromise on the health of citizens and this has to take precedence over the "greed" of few automobile manufacturers who, unfortunately, want to stretch the timeline to make a "little more money".
Noting that India has the "dubious distinction" of having 15 out of the 20 most polluted cities in the world, the court said the effect of pollution on the environment and health was so huge that it cannot be compensated in the marginal extra profits that manufacturers might make.
"Therefore, if there is a conflict between health and wealth, obviously, health will have to be given precedence," said the bench. "We are dealing here with a situation where children and unborn children suffer from pollution and issues of inter-generational equity are involved," the bench said and noted there was more than sufficient time for manufacturers to make BS-VI compliant vehicles.
"They (manufacturers) already have the technology to do so. The automobile industry must show the will, responsibility and urgency in this regard," the court said in its order while deciding if BS-IV compliant vehicles should be permitted to be sold in India after March 31, 2020.
The Supreme Court was hearing a petition by automobile manufacturers seeking more time for compliance with BS VI norms and that a grace period be provided to complete sale of all BS VI non-compliant vehicles after 1 April 2020.
The automobile manufacturers had justified the grace period to sell their vehicles contending that India was leapfrogging from BS-IV emission norms to BS-VI within a short span of time.
The manufacturers had argued that they were allowed to manufacture BS-IV vehicles till 31 March 2020 and they should be granted reasonable time to sell their stock.
Additional Solicitor General ANS Nadkarni, who had appeared for the Centre, had told the apex court that the government considered it fit to give three and six months to the manufacturers to sell their stock of BS-IV vehicles after 1 April 2020.
Advocate Aparajita Singh, assisting the top court as amicus curiae in the air pollution matter, had opposed the government’s move to give time till 30 June 2020 to automobile manufacturers to sell their BS-VI non-compliant four-wheelers manufactured till 31 March 2020.
The amicus had also opposed the government’s proposal to give grace period till 30 September 2020, for the sale of BS-VI non-compliant heavy transport vehicles.