SC recalls its order allowing sale of BS-IV vehicles for 10 days after lifting of lockdown

 The Supreme Court Wednesday recalled its March 27 order by which it had allowed sale of BS-IV vehicles for 10 days across India, except in Delhi-NCR, after lifting of COVID-19 induced lockdown, a directive which will impact registration of many of these vehicles.

Warning the automobile dealers of not taking advantage of the apex court by “playing fraud”, a bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra observed that its earlier directives have been violated and BS-IV vehicles were sold during the lockdown in last week of March and after March 31 also.

“Do not take advantage of this court by playing fraud” the bench, also comprising Justices S A Nazeer and Indira Banerjee, said while hearing the matter through video-conferencing.

The bench said Bharat Stage (BS)-IV vehicles sold after March 31 this year and those whose details have not been uploaded on the e-Vahan portal of the government will not be registered.

The top court had on March 27 said it was permitting sale of 10 per cent of unsold BS-IV vehicles to make up for six days lost due to the nationwide lockdown which was imposed on March 25.

In October 2018, the court had said no BS-IV vehicle would be sold or registered in India from April 1, 2020.

During the hearing on Wednesday, the bench observed that sale of BS-IV vehicles had increased in the last week of March, when the nationwide lockdown was in force, and there were online transactions also.

Senior advocate Aparajita Singh, who is assisting the top court as an amicus curiae in the matter, said the court has recalled its March 27 order.

The bench observed that automobile dealers association have not followed its earlier order and have violated the court’s directives.

It said that BS-IV vehicles were sold during the lockdown in last week of March and after March 31 also and now their registration was being sought despite the fact that order was passed way back in 2018.

The association’s counsel referred to an earlier order and argued that court had said if BS-IV vehicle is sold before March 31, then registration would be done.

To this, the bench asked how dealers have sold these vehicles during the lockdown period in March.

It observed that details of more than 17,000 vehicles have not been uploaded on the government’s e-Vahan portal.

The bench said it would ask the government to check the e-Vahan data and would allow registration of those BS-IV vehicles, whose details are uploaded on the portal till March 31.

It also asked the government to place before it the data of vehicles which were uploaded on the e-Vahan portal after 31 March.

The court asked the automobile dealers association to furnish details of vehicles sold by them to the government.

The bench has posted the matter for hearing on July 23.

As per an affidavit filed by an automobile dealers association in the top court, less than 10 per cent of unsold inventory of BS-IV vehicles was sold within 10 days of lifting of the lockdown.

It said that orders passed by the apex court in October 2018 and March 27 this year have been complied with and there “is no flouting” of the directives.

It also provides the data regarding uploading of data in the e-Vahan portal till March 31 this year.

In 2016, the Centre had also announced that India would skip the BS-V norms and adopt BS-VI by 2020.

BS emission norms are standards instituted by the government to regulate output of air pollutants from motor vehicles.

On June 15, the apex court had made it clear that no sale and registration of BS-IV vehicles would be permitted in the country and pulled up the automobile dealers association for violating its earlier order that had given some limited relaxation.

A livid top court had noted that as per the compliance affidavit filed regarding its March 27 order, more than 2,25,000 vehicles were waiting registration as on March 31 and this exceeded the figure which it had specified.

It had allowed registration of 1.05 lakh two-wheelers, 2,250 passenger cars and 2,000 commercial vehicles which were sold but not registered across the country.

It had said that registration of vehicles, which were to be sold out of the permitted 10 per cent, cannot be made without its permission and without giving particulars as ordered by the court in March.

In March this year, the apex court was informed about the unsold inventory of BS-IV vehicles — around seven lakh two wheelers, 15,000 passenger cars and 12,000 commercial vehicles.

It was told that there were 1,05,000 two-wheelers, 2,250 passenger cars and 2,000 commercial vehicles, which were sold but not registered throughout the country.

The top court had then ordered that vehicles, which were sold but not registered, be registered by the authorities by April 30.

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