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SC bans sale, registration of BS-III vehicles from April 1

In a blow to automobile firms, the Supreme Court on Wednesday banned sale and registration of vehicles, which are not BS-IV compliant, in India from April 1 when the new emission norms come into force.

Observing that health of the people is "far, far more important than the commercial interests of the manufacturers", the apex court said that the makers of such vehicles have declined to take "sufficient proactive steps" despite being fully aware that the firms would be required to manufacture only BS-IV compliant vehicles from April 1, 2017.
The court also prohibited registration of vehicles, which do not meet Bharat Stage-IV emission standards, from April 1 except on a proof that such a vehicle was sold on or before March 31.

"We direct that on and from April 1, 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 April 1, 2017," a bench comprising Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta said.

"All the vehicle registering authorities under the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 are prohibited from registering such vehicles on and from April 1, 2017, that do not meet BS-IV emission standards, except on proof that such a vehicle has already been sold on or before March 31, 2017," the bench said, adding detailed reasons for this order would be given in due course.

The Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) had earlier informed the apex court that companies were holding stock of around 8.24 lakh vehicles, which are not BS-IV compliant, including 96,000 commercial vehicles, over six lakh two-wheelers and around 40,000 three-wheelers.

Reacting to the court's order banning BS-III vehicles, SIAM termed it as "frustrating", saying the existing law allows the sale of these vehicles and this fact was ignored.
"We all have to respect the Supreme Court verdict," SIAM President Vinod Dasari said.

Noting that as per a government notification, the sale of BS III vehicle was allowed after April 1, he said, "Now suddenly those BS III vehicles are banned. I find it quite frustrating that something like this happens."

Green bodies lauded the court's decision, terming it as an acknowledgement of the public health crisis and a step in right direction towards fighting air pollution.
Environment experts said the transition was "critical" as the movement from BS-III to BS-IV could lead to substantial reduction in particulate matter emission.
"This is a significant step forward as this gives the message and the lesson that the automobile industry will have to walk the extra mile to address the expansive concern around public health and not weigh down the transition by taking a very narrow technical view," Executive Director, Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) Anumita Roychowdhury said.
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