New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday set aside the National Green Tribunal (NGT) direction which said that vehicles not complying with the requirement of possessing and/or displaying a valid Pollution Under Control (PUC) certificate will be debarred from being supplied fuel.
The top court also set aside another direction of the NGT wherein it asked the Madhya Pradesh government to deposit Rs 25 crore to secure compliance with its order.
A bench comprising Justices Arun Mishra and Indira Banerjee said: "This court is constrained to hold that the Tribunal had no power and/or authority and/or jurisdiction to pass orders directing the Appellant State Government (Madhya Pradesh) to issue orders, instructions or directions on dealers, outlets and petrol pumps not to supply fuel to vehicles without PUC certificate."
The bench observed that in passing a blanket direction, directing the state government to ensure that no dealer and/or outlet and/or petrol pump should supply fuel to vehicles without PUC certificate, contravenes the Central Motor Vehicles Rules.
"The 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," noted the bench.
The top court emphasised that "motor vehicles not complying with the requirement of possessing and/or displaying a valid PUC certificate cannot be debarred from being supplied fuel."
The bench also said that there can be no doubt that 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 the law," observed the bench.
The apex court order came on an appeal filed by the Madhya Pradesh government against the April 2015 order of the NGT, Bhopal, directing that motor vehicles not complying with the requirement of displaying a valid 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, as well as an order dated August 3, 2015 rejecting the application for review of the April 2015 order.
The tribunal further granted a period of 60 days for compliance of the order under review on condition that the state will deposit Rs 25 crore with the Registrar of the Tribunal.
"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," said the top court while setting aside the Tribunal order.