The Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered that from April 1, 2020, only Euro VI fuel compliant vehicles will be permitted to be sold and registered across the country.
A bench of Justice Madan B. Lokur, Justice S. Abdul Nazir and Justice Deepak Gupta said: "No motor vehicles conforming to the emission standards of Bharat Stage IV shall be sold or registered from April 1, 2020."
Saying that there could be no compromise with the health of the citizens, Justice Gupta speaking for the bench said, "If one has to choose between health and wealth, health of the teeming millions of this country will have to take precedence over the greed of a few automobile manufacturers."
Brushing aside the stand of the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers that the shift to BSVI compliant vehicles is a long drawn out process requiring huge changes in technologies, the court referred to some of the vehicle manufacturers who have said that they would bring Bharat Stage VI compliant vehicles well before March 31, 2020 deadline.
Taking a dim view of those resisting the switchover, the court said that some of the manufacturers were not willing to comply with the 2020 deadline "not because they do not have the technology but because the use of technology will lead to increase in the cost of the vehicles which may lead to reduction in sales of the vehicles and ultimately their profits."
If there is a "conflict between health and wealth" obviously health will have to be given precedence, the court said that when the concern is not just the health of one citizen but the "entire citizenry including the future citizens" , "the larger public interest has to outweigh the much smaller pecuniary interest of the industry, ... especially when the entire wherewithal to introduce the cleaner technology exists."
Saying that the experiment of region wise introduction of BSIV fuel was not "very successful", the court said that "it is therefore necessary to ensure that BSVI compliance is uniform throughout the country so that even those areas of the country which fortunately have not suffered the ills of extreme pollution are safe in the future."
The court referred to the WHO database of more than 4,300 which said that the Indian cities of Gwalior, Allahabad, Raipur, Delhi, Ludhiana, Khanna, Varanasi, and Patna were among the most polluted in the world.
Saying that the "automobile manufacturers must behave responsiblky", the court said, "We expected that keeping in view our earlier order, they would have themselves volunteered to be BS VI compliant by March 31, 2020."
Welcoming the order, Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) counsel Vijay Panjwani said that the switchover to Euro VI compliant vehicles was long overdue as Euro VI fuel is available in Delhi NCR for the last one year.
Panjwani said that switchover was being held back to facilitate the interstate movement of vehicles.
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