The Supreme Court of India in its latest order has barred the registration of BS4 compliant vehicles till further notice. It has also expressed displeasure at the sale of a large number of vehicles in March during coronavirus lockdown. The SC bench headed by Justice Arun Sharma said, “An unusual number of BS-IV vehicles were sold during the lockdown”.
The next hearing on this matter is scheduled to take place on August 13. The top court was earlier irked over the violation of its order and had pulled up the automobile dealers association by saying that the BS-IV vehicles were sold during the lockdown in the last week of March and after March 31 also.
What did the latest order further say?
Furthermore, the Supreme Court(SC) said that an unusual number of BS 4 vehicles were sold during the lockdown. To remind everyone, following an appeal by the automotive industry, SC had issued an order on 27 March, allowing sales of BS-IV vehicles for 10 days after the lockdown was lifted in India. The apex court’s directives permitted sales of only 10 percent of the unsold BS-IV inventory. In fact, Bar and Bench report the Supreme Court bench, headed by Justice Arun Mishra, observed that something “fraudulent” may have taken place in this regard.
The decision came close on the heels of the top court pulling up the Federation of Auto Dealers (FADA) in June and warning that relaxation norms had been flouted. The apex court noted that 2.55 lakh BS-IV vehicles have been sold after March 27 though it had allowed registration of only 1.05 lakh BS-IV vehicles. FADA had urged the top court to extend the deadline for sale and registration of BS-IV vehicles for 15 days post end of lockdown.
In its July 8 hearing, the SC noted that it seemed that FADA had sold more vehicles than had been allowed by the SC and questioned how. It further directed the Federation of Automobile Dealers’ Association of India (FADA) to submit data of BS4 vehicles registered in the period in question. The SC bench observed that the details of only 17,000 such vehicles were uploaded on the VAHAN portal, warning that its order will protect only registered vehicles.
To be noted, the SC had relaxed the March 31 deadline, on the back of an urgent plea by FADA. FADA had made an urgent appeal before the apex court to relax the deadline by 30 days after the lifting of the lockdown. The FADA, citing Force Majeure circumstances, argued that the lockdown owing to the Coronavirus had kept the dealers from being able to sell the existing inventory.