New Delhi: The ban on registration of diesel-run SUVs and high-end cars with engine capacity of 2000 cc and above in Delhi and NCR will continue as the Supreme Court on Saturday did not modify its earlier order which said the ban would remain in effect till further orders.

Representational image.

Representational image.

A bench comprising Chief Justice TS Thakur and Justices AK Sikri and R Banumathi will now resume on 9 May the hearing on various pleas including those of automobile giants like Mercedes, Toyota, Mahindra and General Motors for allowing registration of big diesel cars and SUVs.

The apex court, on 16 December last year, had barred registration of cars and vehicles with engine capacity of 2000 cc and above till 31 March.

“Interim order dated 16th December, 2015 passed by us restraining registration of diesel cars with a capacity of 2000 cc and above, shall continue pending further orders from this Court,” it said on 31 March.

As the court on Saturday did not pass any direction with regard to the registration of these vehicles, the order banning it would now continue till further orders.

During the hearing on Saturday, senior advocate KK Venugopal, appearing for three minors, who had moved the apex court, seeking direction to curb Delhi’s spiralling pollution graph cited the example of California and said that the corrective steps taken there can be taken here also to reduce pollution.

He said that both diesel and petrol vehicles ply in California.

If diesel vehicles use “catalytic converter or retro-fitted”, the pollution can substantially be reduced, he said.

Venugopal said that when CNG was introduced, some people said that it is not possible and others said it is too expensive but ultimately people started using it.

“Earlier, it took more than three months to convert a vehicle into CNG but now it takes around two-three days and costs just Rs 40,000 to Rs 80,000,” he said, adding that similarly if diesel vehicle “retrofit themselves” then it would help in reducing the emission of particulate matter substantially.

To this, the bench said no one has made this argument before it and asked Venugopal whether the efficacy of the research or such retrofit engines have been checked.
Venugopal said the efficacy of research could be checked by the government, but the point is that it could be a solution to the vehicular pollution.

He said that the cost on “retrofit engines” comes at around Rs 10,000 to Rs 12,000 and it would help the older vehicles reduce emissions.

Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for an automobile manufacturer, sought modification of the earlier order of the apex court banning registration of diesel vehicles and said that although diesel vehicles pollute more than petrol vehicles, the percentage is not that huge.

“Diesel vehicles contribute to the pollution only 25 per cent but 75 per cent is contributed by non-diesel vehicles. Four-wheel passenger vehicles contribute only 1.5 per cent,” Singhvi said while referring to the data of pollution.

To this, the bench said that it was earlier looking forward to doing something like adopting ‘polluters pay’ principle and ask the polluters to pay compensation but now several others suggestions have come on record which need to be considered.

Singhvi said that BS IV vehicles are 96 per cent less polluting and complete ban on diesel vehicles is ban on BS IV compliance vehicles.

He further said, “to say diesel cars cause more pollution and therefore we should ban them will solve no problem.”

The matter was fixed for further hearing on 9 May.

The bench which is hearing a PIL filed by M C Mehta in 1985 on reducing pollution had earlier asked the reputed car makers not to treat the petition as an “adversarial litigation” and “treat it in public interest”.

Earlier, the court had come out with harsh measures including specifying four more entry points through which no heavy commercial vehicle, unless bound for Delhi, will be allowed entry.

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SC stays ban on 2000 cc diesel cars in Delhi and NCR; hearing on 9 May