New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday extended until further orders the ban on registration of diesel luxury sedans and SUVs with over and above 2,000 CC in the national Capital region with a view to curbing air pollution. The court also extended till April 30 the time for conversion of diesel taxis in the CNG fitted vehicles.
With major car manufacturers strongly pleading for lifting the ban, the court made it clear to them that the ban will continue if they are not prepared to pay environment compensation cess (ECC) and opposed such a levy.
The court, however, exempted high-security vehicles belonging to the Special Protection Group from the diesel registration ban, but said 30 per cent of the vehicle’s price will have to be paid as environment compensation cess (ECC) for any such registration.
Earlier, the amicus curiae submitted before a three-judge bench of Chief Justice T.S. Thakur and Justices A.K. Sikri and Ms R. Banumathi that around four lakh trucks had been diverted by the Haryana government at various entry points from entering Delhi and `152 crore had been collected as ECC.
“As the earlier orders had greatly helped in bringing down the pollution level in the city, the ban on registration of SUVs should continue,” he submitted.
Senior counsel Gopal Subramanium, appearing for Mercedes Benz pleaded for lifting the ban on registration saying that all Mercedes cars are over and above 2,000 cc and they strictly comply with emission norms.
Other major car manufacturers contended that the pollution caused by diesel vehicles was less than 0.004 per cent and there was no basis to assume that diesel vehicles are the cause for pollution.
The CJI told the counsel: “You are selling luxury cars like Mercedes. How many of you can afford? Only the super rich can afford. Why should you pollute and make the lives of other people miserable. We will continue the ban for six months or till you agree for 30 per cent levy of EC surcharge. When a person purchasing a diesel vehicle must know that he is causing pollution and must pay for it.”
Former finance minister and senior counsel P. Chidambaram, appearing for Maruti, urged the court not to pass any order levying ECC when the economy is slow and sluggish.
The CJI told Mr Chidambaram: “We are conscious of the fact that this order is going to affect the economy. What we are doing is in public interest. This order may be extended to other cities also.”...