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Suspend/Cancel Registration Certificate Of Vehicles Without Valid PUC Certificate, Penalize Owners: SC [Read Judgment]

Ashok Kini
28 Aug 2020 1:25 PM GMT
Suspend/Cancel Registration Certificate Of Vehicles Without Valid PUC Certificate, Penalize Owners: SC [Read Judgment]
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The Supreme Court has directed the State of Madhya Pradesh to suspend/cancel Registration Certificate of vehicles which do not possess a valid Pollution Under Control Certificate and also to initiate penal measures against the owner and/or the person(s) in possession and/or control of the offending vehicle, in accordance with law.

The bench comprising Justices Arun Mishra and Indira Banerjee observed that the National Green Tribunal has the the power, authority and/or jurisdiction to direct a State Government to strictly implement the requirement of vehicles to possess and/or display a valid PUC Certificate.

The court was considering an appeal filed by the state of Madhya Pradesh against the National Green Tribunal, Central Zonal Bench, Bhopal, order directing that motor vehicles not complying with the requirement of displaying a valid "Pollution Under Control" (PUC) Certificate would suffer the consequence of suspension and/or revocation of the Registration Certificate of the vehicle, and would also not be provided with fuel by any dealer or petrol pump. NGT had further directed the state to deposit an amount of Rs.25 crores by way of security for compliance with the said order.

The Court also observed that Motor Vehicles not complying with the requirement of possessing and/or displaying a valid PUC Certificate cannot be debarred from being supplied fuel. It also held that NGT cannot require monetary deposit to secure compliance of an order.

Partly allowing the appeal, the bench held that the NGT had  no power and/or authority and/or jurisdiction 1) to pass orders directing the State Government to issue orders, instructions or directions on dealers, outlets and petrol pumps not to supply fuel to vehicles without PUC Certificate 2) to direct the appellant State to deposit Rs.25 crores to secure compliance with its order.

The Court, referring to Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 and Rules, noted that that driving a vehicle without a pollution PUC certificate entails (i) suspension of registration certificate; (ii) imprisonment which may extend to three months; (iii) fine which may extend to Rs.10,000/- or both (iv) disqualification for holding licence for a period of three months (v) imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months or with fine which may extend to Rs.10,000/- or with fine. The court also observed that the suspension of the certificate of registration is temporary. "The suspension is until such time as a certificate is produced before the Registering Authority certifying that the vehicle complies with sub Rules (2) and (7) of the Rule 115 of the Central rules. A Certificate of Registration is also to be deemed to have been suspended, until a fresh Pollution Under Control certificate is obtained.", it said.

State Government can be directed to strictly implement the requirement of vehicles to possess and/or display a valid PUC Certificate

The Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 may not be specified in Schedule I to the NGT Act. However, the statutory 1989 Rules framed under the said Act casts statutory environmental obligations on manufacturers, owners and others in control of motor vehicles, as also the State and other statutory authorities under the said Act. The enforcement of the statutory environmental obligations under the 1989 Rules, which is a substantial question relating to environment, arises out of implementation of the 1981 Act and the Environment Protection Act and, in particular, Section 20 of the 1981 Act which casts on the State Government the mandatory duty to give instructions to the authorities in charge of Registration of Motor Vehicles with a view to ensure compliance of the standards of emission of our pollutants and Section 7 of the Environmental Protection Act, which prohibits any person from carrying on any operation, which would include operation of a motor vehicle, from discharging or emitting any environmental pollutants in excess of prescribed standards or permitting such discharge or emission.. On a combined reading of Sections 3, 7, 10, 11 and 23 of the Environment Protection Act, with particular reference to Section 3(1), 3(2)(i)(a) and (b), 3(2) (iii, iv) and 3(2)(x) with Section 20 of the 30 1981 Act and Sections 14, read with 2(c), and 2(m) of the NGT Act and Rules 115 and 116 of the 1989 Rules, the learned Tribunal had the power, authority and/or jurisdiction to direct the appellant State Government to strictly implement the requirement of vehicles to possess and/or display a valid PUC Certificate, and also to direct the appellant State Government and/or the other authorities concerned to take penal action in accordance with law, that is, Rules 115/116 of the 1989 Rules. (Para 41,42)

Stringent action has to be taken, but in accordance with law

The court further observed that can strong measures must be taken to protect the environment and improve the air quality whenever there is contravention of statutory rules causing environmental pollution. Stringent action has to be taken, but in accordance with law, it added.

Motor Vehicles not complying with the requirement of possessing and/or displaying a valid PUC Certificate cannot be debarred from being supplied fuel

Stoppage of supply of fuel to vehicles not complying with the requirement to have and/or display a valid PUC Certificate is not contemplated either in the 1989 Rules or in the NGT Act. Motor Vehicles not complying with the requirement of possessing and/or displaying a valid PUC Certificate cannot be debarred from being supplied fuel. In passing blanket direction, directing the appellant State Government to ensure that no dealer and/or outlet and/or petrol pump should supply fuel to vehicles without PUC Certificate, de hors the Central Motor Vehicles Rules, the learned Tribunal overlooked the fact that no vehicle can either be repaired to comply with pollution norms, nor tested for compliance with the political norms upon repair, without fuel.This Court is, therefore, constrained to hold that the learned Tribunal had no power and/or authority and/or jurisdiction to pass orders directing the Appellant State Government to issue orders, instructions or directions on dealers, outlets and petrol pumps not to supply fuel to vehicles without PUC Certificate. (Para 52)

NGT had no jurisdiction to direct the State to deposit Rs.25 crores to secure compliance with its order

The learned Tribunal had no power and/or authority and/or jurisdiction to direct the appellant State to deposit Rs.25 crores to secure compliance with its order. In any case such an order should not have been passed in review when the initial order did not contain any direction for security deposit. (Para 58)

While partly allowing the appeal, the bench directed:

The State appellant shall, however, strictly implement compliance of Rules 115 and 116 of the Rules and penalize all those who contravene the said Rules in accordance with the provisions of the 1989 Rules. The Registration Certificate of vehicles which do not possess a valid PUC Certificate shall be forthwith suspended and/or cancelled, and penal measures initiated against the owner and/or the person(s) in possession and/or control of the offending vehicle, in accordance with law.


Case name

STATE OF MADHYA PRADESH vs. CENTRE FOR ENVIRONMENT PROTECTION RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT

Case no.

CIVIL APPEAL NOS.8932-8933 OF 2015

Coram

Justices Arun Mishra and Indira Banerjee

Counsel

Advocates M. C. Dhingra and Kaushal Yadav


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[Read Judgment]







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