The automobile giant had admitted to the use of “defeat device” in 11 million diesel engine cars sold in the US, Europe and other global markets to manipulate emission test results.
By Indu Bhan and Pritish Raj
German automaker Volkswagen has moved the Supreme Court against the National Green Tribunal’s (NGT) order slapping a Rs 500 crore penalty on the company for installing ‘cheat devices’ in its diesel cars in India to deceive emission tests.
While directing the company to pay the fine within two months, the tribunal on March 7 had said that the funds will be utilised towards improving air quality in the NCR of Delhi and other highly polluted areas. The green panel had on November 16 directed the foreign car manufacturer to deposit an interim amount of Rs 100 crore with the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).
Stating that the NGT order is arbitrary and unreasonable, the company said the fine was imposed even when an NGT-appointed committee (CPCB) report found that the vehicles of Volkswagen Group companies are in compliance with the regulatory environmental norms in India.
The automaker said the NGT has based its findings on the basis of “on road” tests which have no legal basis or validity under Indian law.
“The NGT has imposed a penalty of Rs 500 crore upon the Volkswagen Group companies, without determining any provision of law that has been violated,” the company said in its appeal to the Supreme Court.
Citing another International Centre for Automotive Technology (ICAT) report, the company said emissions from Hyundai and Mahindra vehicles were four to six times the BS-IV norms, which is substantially higher than the alleged higher emissions from vehicles of Volkswagen Group companies when tested on road.
An NGT-appointed committee had earlier in January recommended a penalty of Rs 171.34 crore on Volkswagen as a means of “creating deterrence” for causing “health damages” and air pollution in Delhi due to excess nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions. This fine was enhanced to Rs 500 crore by the NGT on March 7.
On January 17, the NGT had slammed Volkswagen for not depositing Rs 100 crore, imposed on it for damaging the environment and directed it to submit the amount within 24 hours failing which its directors would be sent to jail.
However, the Volkswagen Group in India reiterated that all its cars are “compliant with the emission norms defined in India.”
The automobile giant had admitted to the use of “defeat device” in 11 million diesel engine cars sold in the US, Europe and other global markets to manipulate emission test results. Volkswagen India had in December 2015 announced the recall of 3.23 lakh vehicles in India to fix the emission software after ARAI conducted tests on some models and found that their on-road emissions were 1.1 times to 2.6 times higher than the applicable BS-IV norms.