New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday said that "no coercive action" would be taken against the Volkswagen Group till the German automaker's plea challenging the Rs 500 crore penalty imposed on it by the NGT was heard by it.
Passing its direction - which virtually indicates a stay on the fine - after hearing the petition filed by Volkswagen Group challenging the penalty, a bench of Justice S.A. Bobde and Justice S. Abdul Nazeer also issued notice.
Volkswagen had moved the apex court against the fine imposed on it by NGT Bench of Chairperson, Justice A.K. Goel in March this year. The tribunal had found the car carmaker guilty of deploying "cheat devices" in its diesel cars, which caused an immense amount of damage to the environment.
Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, representing Volkswagen, told the bench that initially the fine on the carmaker was Rs 100 crore, but it was increased five fold to Rs 500 crore.
In January 2019, the NGT imposed a fine of RS 100 crore on the carmaker, which challenged it in the Supreme Court. The top court found out four errors, and sent the case back to the tribunal, which, in March, passed an order increasing the fine to Rs 500 crore.
Singhvi told the court that the NGT did not consider its own committee report, which had found no violations on Volkswagen's part.
He also contended that the carmaker should not be treated an isolated case, as there are many other car manufacturers indulging in much greater violations of many norms.
The case against the German carmaker originates from the 2015 cheat devices scandal where Volkswagen was held guilty by the US' Environmental Protection Agency. The agency had found that the carmaker had intentionally programmed its TDI diesel engines to activate their emissions control only during laboratory emissions testing, which allowed the emission of the polluting nitrogen oxide well over the prescribed pollution emission standards.
The Automotive Research Association of India, in the same year, found that the tested Volkswagen vehicles' emissions were many times over the permitted levels.
A group of private petitioners moved the green tribunal, seeking a ban on the vehicles by the German carmaker for allegedly flouting the emissions norms.
The NGT appointed committee recommended a penalty of Rs 171.34 crore on the carmaker for causing air pollution due to flouting the emission norms.