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No budge from SC on large-diesel vehicle ban; Salve to submit amicus report

The Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to relax its December 2015 order prohibiting the sale and registration in Delhi of diesel vehicles with engine capacity of 2000cc or above, saying that for now the ban will continue.

“This order (banning the registration of diesel vehicles with engine capacity of 2000 cc or above including SUV) will stay for now,” said the apex court bench comprising Chief Justice TS Thakur, Justice AK Sikri and Justice R Banumathi, while ordering that no commercial vehicle not bound for Delhi would enter the capital city.

Refusing to soften its clampdown on the registration of diesel vehicles with engine capacity of 2000cc or above, the court asked senior counsel Abhishek Manu Singhvi to pass over whatever material they had in support of their contention for relaxing the order to amicus curiae Harish Salve who would submit a report after ascertaining the views of the Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA).

“Whatever material you want us to look into, give it to Salve,” Chief Justice Thakur told Singhvi as he sought to make some suggestions.

The court said this after Singhvi referred to a report by the IIT Kanpur which said only a fraction of air pollution was being contributed by diesel vehicles. The court was told that IIT Kanpur says that diesel vehicles were contributing only 2 percent of the PMT

“Are you seeking the alteration of 16 December, 2015 order or do you want it to be deleted,” the court asked Singhvi and senior counsel CA Sundaram, appearing for the Automobile Manufacturers Association while refusing for now to modify its earlier order.

Observing that “prima facie our impression is that diesel vehicle cause more pollution”, the court said that if it is correct, a person buying a diesel vehicle was buying a polluting device.

Automobile manufacturers Mahindra & Mahindra, Mercedes and Toyota had on Monday moved the apex court seeking the modification of its 16 December order, imposing a ban on sale and registration of diesel vehicles of higher engine capacity in the national capital in the wake of alarming rise in air pollution.

While doubling the environment compensation charge (ECC) for loaded commercial vehicles entering Delhi, the court by its 16 December order had imposed a blanket ban on registration of diesel vehicles of 2,000cc and above, including SUVs, in the National Capital Region (NCR), noting that they are prone to cause higher pollution level and are used by the more affluent sections of society.

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