Delhi’s public utility BS-4 diesel vehicles should be registered, says SC

The Supreme Court on Friday stated that all Bharat Stage-IV (BS-IV) compliant diesel vehicles purchased before April 1, 2020 by civic agencies and police in the Capital for carrying out essential public services should be registered by the transport authority.

Without passing an order to this effect, a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) SA Bobde asked the municipal authorities and Delhi Police to submit a list of all such vehicles pending registration to the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) – the statutory body assisting the Court with Delhi pollution matters. The EPCA will file a report to the Court following which an omnibus order is expected to be passed.

The direction came while the Court was hearing separate applications by concessionaires operating on behalf of municipal agencies in Delhi which required Court’s nod to get their vehicles registered with the various regional transport offices in the Capital. These vehicles were meant for collection of garbage. In all, the application sought registration of seven compressed natural gas (CNG)-based vehicles, one BS-IV diesel based vehicle and 13 BS-VI based vehicles.

This has been the practice since the National Green Tribunal (NGT) order of April 2015 directing ban on diesel vehicles in Delhi owing to the rising level of air pollution. Taking up the applications, CJI Bobde remarked, “What is this….has the Supreme Court started registering vehicles also?”

Senior advocate Aparajita Singh who is assisting the Court in these matters as amicus curiae pointed out that all these vehicles qualify for registration as they were purchased before April 1, 2020. The vehicles even had temporary registration with the E-Vahan portal of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways. However, the amicus pointed out that instead of coming in batches, the Court may direct the civic agencies and police to file a consolidated list of such vehicles that can be considered at one go.

So far as the application for registration of CNG vehicles and BS-VI diesel vehicles were concerned, the bench clarified that these vehicles can be registered by the transport authorities as they met with the permissible emission standards.

With regard to BS-IV diesel vehicles, the bench, also comprising Justices AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian said, “If the purchase had been made on or before March 31, 2020 and these vehicles are BS-IV compliant, such vehicles necessary for the Municipal Corporation to carry essential public utility services should also be registered…. EPCA shall scrutiny the pending cases and submit a report to this Court so that a common order could be passed.”

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