The Centre has told the National Green Tribunal’s (NGT) that its order to phase out diesel vehicles more than 15-year-old in Delhi is “contravention” of the provisions of the Motor Vehicle Act because “currently there was no legal provision” under which such vehicles can be scrapped. “At present no legal provisions exist under which diesel vehicles which are more than 15 years old and are BS I or BS II compliant could bescrapped,” The Ministry of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises said in its affidavit filed before the green panel on Friday. It said that "forcible scrapping" of vehicles might give rise to various litigations and such an order would "amount to penalizing the motor vehicles owners who have complied with the law of the land".
"It is apprehended that forcible scrapping of vehicles done in compliance of the Tribunal's order may give rise to innumerable writ petitions by affected vehicle owners, in various courts leading to wastage of precious time of these courts," the affidavit said.
"There is no provision in the Motor Vehicle Act, 1988 as amended in 2015 or any rule made there under that has been violated by the motor vehicles whose registration has been ordered to be cancelled," it said.
It said motor vehicles have to carry a valid Pollution under Control certificate and therefore, "there is already a mechanism in place to allow only those motor vehicles to ply on road that comply with the requirement of having a valid PUC certificate".
The ministry has filed the affidavit in pursuance to the NGT's direction which had asked it to give status of electric and hybrid vehicles in the country and also about the benefits the ministry was considering for those who wish to dispose of their old vehicles.
Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Pinky Anand, who is representing the ministry, will argue the matter before the tribunal on August 2.
In its July 20 order, the NGT had said that deregistration of 15 to 10 years old diesel vehicles in the national capital would be carried out in a phased manner and had barred entry of such trucks with national permits in Delhi-NCR.
In its affidavit, the ministry said that as per the NGT's
order, "the deregistration authorities are directed to start deregistration with reference to the oldest of the vehicles, in other words at the first step the vehicles which are more than 15 years old would be deregistered and then gradually other vehicles would be deregistered from 15 years to 10 years respectively."
Referring to the existing Motor Vehicle Act, the ministry said that it does not provide any power to the State or the Central Government to cancel registration without examination of the vehicle.
"Further, the owner of the vehicle should be given an opportunity to make a representation before his vehicle is considered for cancelLation of registration. The Motor Vehicle Act also clearly mentions that registering authority should satisfy that the vehicle will constitute a danger to public and it is beyond reasonable repair," it said.
The affidavit further said that term 'de-registration' of vehicles does not appear in The Motor Vehicle Act and there were enabling provisions for 'suspension of registration' and 'cancellation of registration'.
The tribunal had earlier said that diesel vehicles which are 15-year-old should be de-registered first and would not get a No Objection Certificate (NoC) for plying outside Delhi-NCR.
It had said that only de-registered diesel vehicles which are less than 15-year-old can get NoC for plying in select areas outside Delhi-NCR to be decided by states where vehicle density is less.
The NGT had on April 7, 2015 held that all diesel vehicles which are more than 10-year-old will not be permitted to ply in Delhi-NCR.
On November 26, 2014, it had banned plying of all diesel or petrol vehicles which were more than 15-year-old.