The Supreme Court today allowed Delhi Police and Delhi Jal Board to register their new diesel-run vehicles of 2000 cc engine capacity and above for transportation of undertrial prisoners, arms and ammunition and supply of water. The bench, which is conducting a special hearing on a Saturday to deal with pleas arising in a 1984 PIL on pollution filed by environmentalist M C Mehta, said during the hearing that it is not going to extend the deadline of April 30 fixed for conversion of all diesel-run taxis into CNG mode.
However, a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice T S Thakur asked Delhi Police to pay 30 per cent of the real value of the vehicle to be purchased by it as Environment Compensation Charge (ECC) or green cess as a pre-condition for their registration with the transport department.
The bench, also comprising Justices A K Sikri and R Banumathi, exempted Delhi Jal Board (DJB) from paying ECC on the ground that around 250 water tankers would be supplying water to the citizens of the city.
Senior advocate Indira Jaising, appearing for the Delhi government, said that DJB has phased out 270 water tankers as they were 10 years old and 250 new tankers have to be registered with the transport authority.
She sought modification of the earlier apex court order by which it had barred registration of all diesel-run vehicles of the engine capacity of 2000 cc and above in Delhi and the National Capital Region (NCR).
Jaising further said that CNG-run water tankers are not available and hence the diesel ones needed to be registered.
Simultaneously, Additional Solicitor General Pinky Anand, appearing for Delhi Police, sought the nod of the apex court on the need to register the diesel-run vehicles of the force.
She further said that around 190 vehicles are to be purchased by Delhi police for purposes like transportation of undertrial prisoners, arms and ammunitions and they are also required for mobilising police force in emergency situations.
The court allowed the plea of police and said that its vehicles will be registered on payment of ECC.
“We are not going to extend any further the deadline,” the bench said.
Senior advocate Shyam Diwan, appearing for some taxi owners made a strong plea for modification of the order with regard to conversion of diesel-run taxis into CNG and said there is no technology at all for it.
“We will not be able to earn our livelihood. Moreover, we have to pay the bank also,” Diwan said.
The Supreme Court will now hear the matter on May 9.
Meanwhile, Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for some Municipal bodies of Delhi, sought an order from the apex court that the diesel vehicles to be used by them for solid waste management, be allowed to be registered with the transport authority.
The bench, however, asked the municipal bodies to approach the National Green Tribunal with the plea.
The petitions before the bench also include the pleas of automobile giants like Mercedes, Toyota, Mahindra and General Motors seeking modification of the order by which registration of their high-end diesel vehicles, with an engine capacity of 2000 CC and above, had been barred in Delhi and NCR.
The Supreme Court had yesterday declined Centre’s request to defer today’s scheduled full-fledged hearing on pollution issues, including the plea of automobile giants.
The apex court had on March 31 asked the stake holders to sit together and come out with “propositions” so that some solutions could be arrived at by holding a full-fledged hearing on Saturdays, a non-working day for the apex court, to save “judicial time”.
While extending the deadline in the last hearing for converting diesel-run taxis into CNG and continuing with the status-quo on registration of high-end diesel vehicles, the bench had asked the big car makers not to treat the PIL as an “adversarial litigation” and “treat it in public interest”.