In a set back to automobile manufacturers, the Supreme Court on Wednesday banned the sale of BS-III vehicles from April 1 when BS-IV emission norms would come into force.
A bench headed by Justice M B Lokur directed that BS III vehicles shall not be registered from April 1 and rejected the plea of manufacturers to allow them to sell 8.2 lakh vehicles that are held in stock.
“Health of citizen is more important than commercial interest of auto manufacturers and we cannot allow polluting vehicles to ply on roads,” the bench said while rejecting pleas of automobile manufacturers.
Automobile manufacturers have told the court that it was not possible for them to convert the existing stock of BS-III compliant two and four wheelers to Bharat Stage-IV emission norms and contended that they have already stopped manufacturing BS-III vehicles from March 1 and ban on their sales would hit the industry badly.
On this, the bench said, “Companies were aware that BS IV norm would come in force from April 1 but they chose to sit back and did not take step to upgrade technology.”
During the hearing, the Centre too informed the court that automakers were allowed to clear unsold stocks after the cut-off date when BS III & BS IV norms were introduced, so it was impractical technically and financially to convert BS III vehicles to BS IV.
Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar, who appeared for the Centre informed the court that the fuel used for BS-IV vehicles is much cleaner and clarified that a BS-III vehicle can run on BS-IV fuel and it is not that BS-III vehicles will become redundant because these will run on BS-IV fuel.
Kumar said that as per the data, around 19 crore vehicles are on road across the country and nobody has challenged or filed an objection either after the draft notification on the issue was published or after the notification came.
The Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA) which had sought a ban on registration of such vehicles after April 1, said that the automobile firms have been in possession of the latest technology for a long time and they should have scaled down the production of BS-III vehicles.