IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CIVIL ORIGINAL JURISDICTION
I.A.NO. 487/2017, I.A. NO. 491/2017, I.A. NO. 494/2017,
I.A. NO. 489/2017, I.A. NO. 495/2017
Writ Petition(Civil) No.13029/1985
UNION OF INDIA & ORS. …RESPONDENT(s)
O R D E R
We have heard the learned Solicitor General, learned Amicus Curiae,
learned counsel for the interveners who are manufacturers of vehicles (two
wheelers, three wheelers, four wheelers and commercial vehicles – for short
referred to as ‘such vehicles’) and learned counsel for the association of
dealers of such vehicles.
The seminal issue in these applications is whether the sale and
registration and therefore the commercial interests of manufacturers and
dealers of such vehicles that do not meet the Bharat Stage-IV (for short
‘BS-IV’) emission standards as on 1st April, 2017 takes primacy over the
health hazard due to increased air pollution of millions of our country men
and women. The answer is quite obvious.
The controversy relates to the sale and registration (on and after
1st April, 2017) of such vehicles lying in stock with the manufacturers and
dealers that meet the Bharat Stage III emission standards (for short BS-III
standards) but do not meet the BS-IV emission standards.
Briefly, according to the manufacturers, they are entitled to
manufacture such vehicles till 31st March, 2017 and they have done so. In
so doing, they say that they have not violated any prohibition or any law.
Hence, the sale and registration of such vehicles on and from 1st April,
2017 ought not to be prohibited. They say that they will not be
manufacturing any vehicle that does not comply with the BS-IV emission
standards from and after 1st April, 2017 and therefore the only issue is
the sale and registration of the existing stock of such vehicles that
comply with BS-III emission standards. They say that they may be given
reasonable time to dispose of the existing stock of such vehicles.
On the other hand, according to the learned Amicus, permitting such
vehicles to be sold or registered on or after 1st April, 2017 would
constitute a health hazard to millions of our country men and women by
adding to the air pollution levels in the country (which are already quite
alarming). It is her submission that the manufacturers of such vehicles
were fully aware, way back in 2010, that all vehicles would have to convert
to BS-IV fuel on and from 1st April, 2017 and therefore, they had more than
enough time to stop the production of BS-III compliant vehicles and switch
over to the manufacture of BS-IV compliant vehicles. In fact, the major
manufacturer of 4 wheeler vehicles, Maruti Sazuki had completely switched
over to the manufacture of BS-IV compliant vehicles a few years ago.
However, for reasons best known to manufacturers of such vehicles and
entirely at their peril, they did not make a complete switch (though a
partial switch has been made) even though they had the technology and
technical know-how to do so. Therefore, keeping the larger public interest
in mind and the potential health hazard to millions of our country men and
women due to increased air pollution, there is no justification for any of
the manufacturers not shifting to the manufacture of BS-IV compliant
vehicles well before 1st April, 2017.
It has been brought to our notice that on 5th January, 2016 the
learned Solicitor General on behalf of the Government of India had
submitted before this Court that requisite quality fuel for BS-IV compliant
vehicles would be available (all over the country) with effect from 1st
April, 2017. This was confirmed and reiterated by the learned Solicitor
General during the course of hearing and he stated that now from 1st April,
2017 requisite quality fuel for BS-IV compliant vehicles would be available
all over the country. He also pointed out that the refineries of the
Government of India had incurred an expenditure of about Rs.30,000 crores
for producing requisite fuel for BS-IV compliant vehicles.
On balance, in our opinion, the submission of the learned Amicus
deserves to be accepted keeping in mind the potential health hazard of such
vehicles being introduced on the road affecting millions of our people in
the country. The number of such vehicles may be small compared to the
overall number of vehicles in the country but the health of the people is
far, far more important than the commercial interests of the manufacturers
or the loss that they are likely to suffer in respect of the so-called
small number of such vehicles. The manufacturers of such vehicles were
fully aware that eventually from 1st April, 2017 they would be required to
manufacture only BS-IV compliant vehicles but for reasons that are not
clear, they chose to sit back and declined to take sufficient pro-active
Accordingly, for detailed reasons that will follow, we direct that:
(a) On and from 1st April, 2017 such vehicles that are not BS-IV
compliant shall not be sold in India by any manufacturer or dealer, that is
to say that such vehicles whether two wheeler, three wheeler, four wheeler
or commercial vehicles will not be sold in India by any manufacturer or
dealer on and from 1st April, 2017.
(b) All the vehicle registering authorities under the Motor Vehicles Act,
1988 are prohibited for registering such vehicles on and from 1st April,
2017 that do not meet BS-IV emission standards, except on proof that such a
vehicle has already been sold on or before 31st March, 2017.
As mentioned above, detailed reasons for the above order will be
given in due course.
(MADAN B. LOKUR)
MARCH 29, 2017
 M.C. Mehta v. Union of India, (2016) 4 SCC 269