The Supreme Court eased the ban on registration of diesel cars and utility vehicles with engines of 2000 cc capacity and above. The verdict came after the observation that air pollution level in the Capital seemed to be under control. Final decision on the matter is still pending.
The ban, however, relaxed the automakers but in return, they have to pay a 1 % environment protection charge on each vehicle registered in Delhi-National Capital Region, orders the Supreme Court. Amicus curiae Harish Salve contested this, saying that the effects will only be known in winter.
The charge is to be levied on the ex-showroom price that excludes local levies and insurance, may be varied after SC takes a call on whether it should be imposed at all. The move was welcomed by vehicle makers looking for a more definitive assurance on the policy to guide investment decisions.
The bench comprising Chief Justice TS Thakur and Justices AK Sikri and R Banumathi relaxed the ban in place since Dec. 2015, after luxury carmakers are voluntarily offered to pay a charge rather than have a complete ban. "Let things move. Pollution seems to be within range," Thakur observed.
The court said it would examine all the issues before deciding on the government's opposition to any court imposed charge. “The levy will not be retrospective,” Thakur said. The environment protection charge will be deposited in an escrow account with the Central Pollution Control Board, he said.
The central government, through the ministry of surface transport, had challenged the court's power to impose a levy, saying it was akin to a tax and should only be imposed by Parliament through law.
The ministry said diesel vehicle maker were already being taxed additionally and there was no need to impose another charge on them. The Environment Pollution Control Authority had sought a higher charge of 20-25per cent of the vehicle cost to offset its emission impact.