no motor vehicle conforming to the emission standard Bharat Stage­IV shall be sold or registered in the entire country with effect from 01.04.2020. = The Government has developed a policy of phasing out polluting vehicles and discouraging the manufacturers of polluting vehicles. This has been done in a gradual manner. Europe introduced Euro­IV fuel in the year 2009 and Euro­VI standards in 2015. We are already many years behind them. We cannot afford to fall back further even by a single day. The need of the hour is to move to a cleaner fuel as early as possible. 21. Therefore, in exercise of the power vested in this Court under Article 142 of the Constitution, we read down sub­rule 21 of Rule 115 and direct that sub­rule 21 of Rule 115 shall be interpreted and understood to read that no motor vehicle conforming to the emission standard Bharat Stage­IV shall be 19 sold or registered in the entire country with effect from 01.04.2020.

REPORTABLE
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CIVIL ORIGINAL JURISDICTION
WRIT PETITION (CIVIL) NO. 13029 OF 1985
M. C. MEHTA …PETITIONER(S)
Versus
UNION OF INDIA & ORS. …RESPONDENT(S)
(IN RE : RECOMMENDATION NOS. 2.2.1 AND 2.2.2 OF REPORT
NOS. 71 AND 78 SUBMITTED BY EPCA)
J U D G M E N T
Deepak Gupta, J.
1. The seminal issue to be decided is whether Bharat Stage IV
(for short BS­IV) compliant vehicles should be permitted to be
sold in India after 31.03.2020.
2. In an earlier judgment dated 13.04.2017, we have given
detailed reasons for the order dated 29.03.2017 whereby this
Court had directed that on and from 01.04.2017, vehicles which
1
are not BS­IV compliant, shall not be sold by any manufacturer
or dealer or motor vehicle company whether such vehicle is a two
wheeler, three wheeler, four wheeler or commercial vehicle etc..
We had also by the said order prohibited registration of non­ BSIV
vehicles from 01.04.2017 except if such vehicles were sold on
or before 31.03.2017. Since in the judgment dated 13.04.2017,
we have set out in detail the history leading to implementation of
the Bharat Stage compliant fuels, it is not necessary to repeat the
same here. However, a short recap of the same would be
apposite to understand the issues in hand.
3. In 2003, the Government of India announced the National
Auto Policy based on the recommendations of the Mashelkar
Committee constituted in 2001. BS­IV compliant vehicles were
made compulsory for four wheelers in different parts of the
country on different dates starting from 01.04.2005, from which
date registration of only BS­IV compliant vehicles were permitted
in the metropolises of Delhi, Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Mumbai,
Pune and Kolkata. Thereafter, it was made compulsory to have
BS­IV compliant vehicles in some other cities from 01.04.2010.
More cities were added on 21.05.2010 and on 14.07.2015.
2
Finally, by amendment dated 19.08.2015 it was mandated that
BS­IV norms would come into force throughout the country w.e.f.
01.04.2017.
4. As far as two and three wheelers are concerned, they were
made subject to BS­III norms on and with effect from 01.04.2010
by insertion of sub­rule 16 in Rule 115 of the Central Motor
Vehicle Rules, 1989 hereinafter referred to as ‘the Rules’. With
effect from 04.07.2014, it was mandated that on and from
01.04.2016 all two wheeler vehicles will comply with BS­IV
emission norms and all existing models will shift to BS­IV
emission norms from 01.04.2017. Similarly, Rule 17 was
inserted in Rule 115 of the Rules on 12.06.2015 in respect of
three wheelers wherein BS­IV standard would be applicable to
new models on or after 01.04.2016. Resultantly, only those
vehicles which were BS­IV compliant would be sold after
01.04.2017.
5. An issue was raised by the manufacturers of motor vehicles
that they should be given reasonable and sufficient time for sale
of stocks of those vehicles which are not BS­IV compliant vehicles
3
but manufactured up to 31.03.2017. This Court did not accept
the submission of the manufacturers and issued the direction
referred to hereinabove. It would be interesting to note that
though some of the manufacturers of two wheelers and three
wheelers took a stand before this Court that great technological
changes are required to make the vehicles BS­IV compliant, one
of the largest manufacturers of two wheelers and three wheelers
in India i.e. Bajaj Auto, filed an application in this Court praying
that it was already manufacturing BS­IV compliant vehicles and
that the vehicles not complying to BS­IV norms should not be
registered after 2017.
6. The issue before us is somewhat similar. Mr. Ranjit Kumar,
learned senior counsel and Mr. Sandeep Narain, learned counsel
appearing for the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (for
short ‘SIAM’), have submitted that though they are not averse to
manufacturing BS­VI compliant vehicles, they should be given
some time to sell the stocks of non­BS­VI compliant vehicles
manufactured upto 31.03.2020. In this regard, they have made
reference to the notification dated 20.02.2018 whereby sub­rule
4
21 has been inserted in Rule 115 of the Rules, which reads as
follows:
“In the Central Motor Vehicle Rules, 1989, in rule 115,
after sub­rule (20), the following sub­rule shall be
inserted namely:­
“(21) New motor vehicles conforming to Emission
Standard Bharat Stage­IV, manufactured before the 1st
April, 2020 shall not be registered after the 30th June,
2020:
Provided that the new motor vehicles of categories M
and N conforming to Emission Standard Bharat StageIV,
manufactured before the 1st April, 2020 and sold in
the form of drive away chassis, shall not be registered
after the 30th September, 2020.”
7. It is submitted that the Government of India while balancing
the need for a cleaner environment with the practical difficulties
faced by the manufacturers has given a three months’ window to
the automobile manufacturers to dispose of the vehicles
conforming to BS­IV norms. In respect of certain categories of
commercial vehicles in which only a chassis is sold and a body
has to be built thereupon, the period of registration has been
extended up to 30.09.2020.
8. It has been contended on behalf of SIAM that in Europe the
normal practice is that about one year’s time is given to the
5
manufacturers of vehicles when a higher quality of fuel is
introduced and the fuel is introduced much earlier and thereafter
an outer limit is fixed for sale of compliant vehicles. According to
SIAM, BS­VI fuel will be available in the entire country only with
effect from 01.04.2020 and manufacturers are, therefore, forced
to stop production after 31.03.2020. Therefore, it is not feasible
for the manufacturers to switch over to BS­VI compliant vehicles
overnight. They have to be given some reasonable time for sale of
the accumulated stocks of non­BS­VI (i.e. BS­IV) compliant
vehicles. It is further submitted that six to nine months’ time is
required to shift the assembly line to make BS­VI compliant
vehicles and if the request of the manufacturers is not accepted,
they will have to start manufacturing BS­VI compliant vehicles
well before 31.03.2020 and at least three to six months’ prior to
the said date. It has also been contended that earlier BS­VI fuel
was to be introduced with effect from 01.04.2024, which was preponed
to 01.04.2023 and it was then pre­poned to 01.04.2021
and finally the date was advanced to 01.04.2020. It was decided
to leapfrog from BS­IV fuel to BS­VI fuel without shifting to BS­V
fuel. According to SIAM, this is creating a lot of difficulties for
the manufacturers.
6
9. Mr. Gopal Subaramaniam, learned senior counsel appearing
for one of the manufacturers, submits that his clients are already
manufacturing vehicles which are both BS­IV and BS­VI fuel
compliant and they are on the road already. Mr. A.N.S.
Nadkarni, learned Additional Solicitor General submits that
keeping in view the difficulties faced by the manufacturers and
balancing the need to have a cleaner environment, three months’
period given to the manufacturers is reasonable. He also urges
that the Rules have not been challenged by any party and,
therefore, this Court should not go into the validity of the Rules.
10. On the other hand, Ms. Aparajita Singh, learned amicus
curiae, has made a passionate plea that no non­BS­VI compliant
vehicle should be permitted to be sold in the entire country after
01.04.2020. She has drawn our attention to the Report of the
Parliamentary Standing Committee (for short ‘the Committee’)
dated 07.08.2018. This Report mainly deals with National
Capital Region (NCR) of Delhi but there are some references to
the entire country. Some of the observations made by the
Committee need to be considered and taken note of. The
7
Committee in Para 5.15 notes that the problem of air pollution is
affecting all human beings and any leniency on the part of the
Government in tackling it will have a cascading effect on the
health of the citizens. These observations have been made with
specific reference to vehicular pollution and the need to ensure
compliance of BS­VI norms with effect from 01.04.2020. There
can be no two views that air pollution is hazardous to health. We
may, also take note of certain observations of the Report of the
Committee which show that one out of three children in Delhi
suffers from respiratory problems. This is almost twice as high
as compared to the city of Kolkata or rural areas. We may note
that the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) database of more
than 4,300 cities showed Indian cities of Gwalior, Allahabad,
Raipur, Delhi, Ludhiana, Khanna, Varanasi and Patna as being
among the most polluted in the world1
. Our attention has been
drawn to various other documents which clearly show the
deleterious effects of pollution on health. The hazards of
pollution and its ill effect on the health of the citizens especially
children are not limited to the city of Delhi or the NCR of Delhi
but affect all the citizens of the country.
1 “World’s Most Polluted Cities”, World Economic Forum, 03.05.2018
8
11. The Union Government has spent about Rs.30,000 crores to
manufacture BS­IV compliant fuel. We have been informed that
another Rs. 30,000/­ crores of the taxpayers’ money have been
expended by the Union to ensure that the fuel available in the
country is BS­VI compliant. It is heartening to note that the
Union, being concerned with the health of the citizens and also
taking note of the urgent need for a clean environment, has taken
steps to manufacture cleaner fuel. This fuel has already been
made available in the National Capital Territory (NCT) of Delhi
from 01.04.2018 and we have been informed that barring a few
places, it shall be available in the entire NCR from 01.04.2019. It
will probably be available in many parts of the country prior to
01.04.2020 and the entire country will shift to BS­VI fuel from
01.04.2020. Obviously, the manufacture of clean fuel is being
done in a phased manner because all the refineries cannot
simultaneously start manufacturing clean fuel. It is not as if on
01.04.2020 just by waving a magic wand the entire country will
change to BS­VI compliant norms. If all the refineries and
manufacturers by taking note of the requirement to bring in BS9
VI fuel, have introduced such fuel from 2018 and are introducing
it in a phased manner in the entire country by 31.03.2020, we
see no reason why manufacturers of automobiles, two wheelers,
three wheelers etc. cannot also do so.
12. We may note that whereas in this Court SIAM has been
canvassing that the shift to BS­VI compliant vehicles is a long
drawn out process requiring huge changes in technology, the
very same manufacturers are selling and exporting BS­VI
compliant vehicles to Europe and other countries. With regard to
two wheelers it has been specifically urged that the technological
changes are immense. To counter this argument the learned
amicus curiae has drawn our attention to a Press Release issued
by M/s. Hero MotoCorp., which is one of the largest motor
manufacturers of two wheelers in the country. In this Press
Release issued in July 2017 it has been stated that M/s. Hero
MotoCorp. has begun developing BS­VI compliant models and it
aims to introduce such products much before the timeline of
2020. The company has also stated that it will manufacture only
BS­VI fuel compliant vehicles well before the date stipulated by
10
the authorities. If one manufacturer can do this, we see no
reason why other manufacturers of two wheelers cannot do so.
13. With regard to trucks and buses, from a news item
published in the Financial Express dated 06.07.2018, it is
apparent that Eicher is already manufacturing trucks and buses
which are not only BS­VI compliant but BS­VI CNG compliant.
Another manufacturer of heavy vehicles i.e. Ashok Leyland had,
in August, 2018 through its subsidiary Optare obtained an order
to manufacture the world’s first electric double decker buses.
The technology needed to manufacture such electric buses is
much more advanced and difficult as compared to the
technological changes required to manufacture petrol and diesel
vehicles which are BS­VI compliant. Similarly, TVS Motors on
07.08.2018 has issued a press note that it will be manufacturing
BS­VI compliant vehicles much ahead of the deadline of 2020.
Many members of SIAM in the Auto Expo held in February, 2018
have exhibited vehicles which are technologically much more
advanced than BS­VI compliant vehicles. These manufacturers
have not only asserted that they can manufacture electric
11
vehicles but also asserted that they are developing hydrogen cell
fuel vehicles along with hybrid, electric and CNG vehicles.
14. We have mentioned these facts only to highlight that some
of the manufacturers are not willing to comply with the
31.03.2020 deadline not because they do not have the technology
but because the use of technology will lead to increase in the cost
of the vehicles which may lead to reduction in sales of the
vehicles and ultimately their profit. There can be no compromise
with the health of the citizens and if one has to choose between
health and wealth, keeping in view the expanded scope of Article
21 of the Constitution, health of the teeming millions of this
country will have to take precedence over the greed of a few
automobile manufacturers. The automobile manufacturers must
behave responsibly. We expected that keeping in view our earlier
order, they would have themselves volunteered to be BS­VI
compliant by 31.03.2020. Unfortunately, this has not been the
case with some of the manufacturers and they want to stretch on
the timeline by a few days or months for no other reason but to
make a little more money.
12
15. When we compare BS­VI fuel with BS­IV fuel, there is a
massive improvement in environmental terms. Once BS­VI
emission norms are enforced, there will be a 68% improvement in
PM2.5. This is not a small change. It is a vast improvement and
the faster it is brought, the better it is. The amicus curiae has
strenuously urged that, at least, in the NCR of Delhi, the BS­VI
norms be applied for sale of vehicles from 01.04.2020. We feel
that it may not be practical to introduce BS­VI compliant vehicles
region­wise or city­wise. In our view, the BS­IV experiment in
this regard was not very successful. BS­VI compliant vehicles are
going to be more expensive than BS­IV compliant vehicles.
People have a tendency to buy cheaper vehicle(s) even from a
neighbouring city. We also strongly feel that the problem of
pollution is not limited to the NCR of Delhi but it is a problem
which has engulfed the entire country especially the major cities.
India has the dubious distinction of having 15 out of the 20 most
polluted cities in the world. The pollution in Gwalior, Raipur &
Allahabad is worse than Delhi. The situation is alarming and
critical. It brooks no delay.
13
16. It is an established principle of law that the right to life, as
envisaged under Article 21 of the Constitution of India includes
the right to a decent environment2
. It includes within its ambit
the right of a citizen to live in a clean environment3
. With regard
to vehicular traffic, this Court has issued a number of directions
to ensure a clean environment and reduce pollution4
. It has been
held that the right to clean environment is a fundamental right5
.
The right to live in an environment free from smoke and pollution
follows from the “quality” of life which is an inherent part of
Article 21 of the Constitution. The right to live with human
dignity becomes illusory in the absence of a healthy
environment6
. The right to life not only means leading a life with
dignity but includes within its ambit the right to lead a healthy,
robust life in a clean atmosphere free from pollution. Obviously,
such rights are not absolute and have to co­exist with
2 Shantistar Builders v. Narayan Khimalal Totame AIR 1990 SC 630;(1990) 1 SCC 520.
3 Bhavani River ­ Sakthi Sugars Ltd., In re, (1998) 2 SCC 601
4 M.C. Mehta v. Union of India, (1998) 6 SCC 60, M.C. Mehta v. Union of India, (1998) 6
SCC 63, M.C. Mehta v. Union of India (Matter regarding emmission standard for vehicles),
(1999) 6 SCC 12, M.C. Mehta v. Union of India, (2002) 10 SCC 191, M.C. Mehta v. Union of
India, 2017 SCC Online SC 394
5 N.D. Jayal v. Union of India, (2004) 9 SCC 362.
6 Shantistar Builders vs Narayan Khimalal Gotame & Ors. Etc, AIR 1990 SC 630, M.C.
Mehta v. Union of India,(2004) 12 SCC 118, State of M.P. v. Kedia Leather & Liquor Ltd.,
(2003) 7 SCC 389.
14
sustainable development. Therefore, if there is a conflict between
health and wealth, obviously, health will have to be given
precedence. When we are concerned with the health of not one
citizen but the entire citizenry including the future citizens of the
country, the larger public interest has to outweigh the much
smaller pecuniary interest of the industry, in this case the
automobile industry, especially when the entire wherewithal to
introduce the cleaner technology exists.
17. It is therefore necessary to ensure that BS­VI compliance is
uniform throughout the country so that even those areas of the
country which fortunately have not suffered the ills of extreme
pollution are safe in the future. The sale of automobiles and
other vehicles is rising exponentially and the number of vehicles
on the road is increasing day by day. Therefore, even a day’s
delay in enforcing BS­VI norms is going to harm the health of the
people. We are dealing here with a situation where children and
unborn children suffer from pollution and issues of intergenerational
equity are involved. Do we as a society or as
manufacturers of automobiles have a right to manufacture more
polluting vehicles when we have the technology to manufacture
15
less polluting vehicles? The answer is obviously a big NO. If we
were to factor only economics even then it makes no economic
sense to have more polluting vehicles on the roads. The effect of
pollution on the environment and health is so huge that it cannot
be compensated in the marginal extra profits that the
manufacturers might make. The amount spent on countering
the ills of pollution such as polluted air, damaged lungs and the
cost of healthcare far outweigh the profits earned.
18. It was urged on behalf of the manufacturers that there are
multiple sources of pollution and vehicles only contribute to 2%
of the pollution. We are not in agreement with this submission
because the Report of the Committee to which we have adverted
hereinabove states that contribution of vehicles to ambient PM2.5
concentration during winter season is 25% and in the summer
season it contributes 9%. Even if we were to accept the figures
submitted by SIAM, we are of the view that no step is too small
when it comes to fighting pollution. Small steps to reduce
pollution when taken together will lead to large scale reduction in
pollution which will result in much cleaner air, which eventually
16
will result in a cleaner and better environment, healthier citizens
and most importantly a healthier generation to come.
19. In view of the fact that these proceedings have been pending
in court for a long time and also in view of the fact that it is
because of orders of this Court that BS­IV and now BS­VI norms
have been introduced from the dates which were not even
thought of by the Government, we feel that we have to take suo
moto notice of the Rules. At the outset, we may notice that
sub­rule 21 of Rule 115 is very vague. It does not talk of sale of
vehicles. It only mentions registration of vehicles and permits
registration of vehicles conforming to BS­IV norms up to
30.06.2020 and in case of categories M & N, up to 30.09.2020.
This rule, in our view, is violative of Article 21 of the Constitution
in as much as it extends time for registration of vehicles beyond
31.03.2020 and must be accordingly read down. Any extension
of time in introducing the new norms which is not absolutely
necessary adversely impacts the health of the citizens and is,
therefore, violative of Article 21 of the Constitution of India. This
Rule goes against the spirit of all the orders passed earlier by this
Court. In the month of March, 2017 we were dealing with a
17
situation when BS­VI norms were to be made effective
throughout the country with effect from 01.04.2020 and this
Court had directed that non­ BS­IV compliant vehicles shall not
be registered on or after 01.04.2017. The situation in the present
case is totally different. 31.03.2020 is almost 1 ½ years away.
There is sufficient time for the manufacturers to change over to
the new system and, therefore, we see no reason why they should
be given a window of three or six months for sale of accumulated
vehicles. Every vehicle sold after the cut­off date of 01.04.2020 is
bound to cause more pollution and, therefore, the
manufacturers, in our considered view, cannot be permitted to
sell any non­BS­VI compliant vehicle on or after 01.04.2020. On
the one hand, the Government has been pro­active in spending
huge amounts of money to move to the BS­VI technology, but on
the other hand, the automobile industry is coming up with a
variety of untenable excuses just to delay the introduction of BSVI
compliant vehicles by a few months. We, in our judgment
dated 13.04.2017, had clearly held “when the health of millions
of our countrymen is involved, notification relating to commercial
activities ought not to be interpreted in a literal manner.” We
have to give a purposive interpretation to notifications specially
18
those dealing with public health issues and even more so, when
health not only of the citizens at present but also the citizens in
the future is involved. There is more than sufficient time for the
manufacturers to manufacture BS­VI compliant vehicles. They
already have the technology to do so. The automobile industry
must show the will, responsibility and urgency in this regard.
20. The Government has developed a policy of phasing out
polluting vehicles and discouraging the manufacturers of
polluting vehicles. This has been done in a gradual manner.
Europe introduced Euro­IV fuel in the year 2009 and Euro­VI
standards in 2015. We are already many years behind them. We
cannot afford to fall back further even by a single day. The need
of the hour is to move to a cleaner fuel as early as possible.
21. Therefore, in exercise of the power vested in this Court
under Article 142 of the Constitution, we read down sub­rule 21
of Rule 115 and direct that sub­rule 21 of Rule 115 shall be
interpreted and understood to read that no motor vehicle
conforming to the emission standard Bharat Stage­IV shall be
19
sold or registered in the entire country with effect from
01.04.2020.
….……………………..J.
(MADAN B. LOKUR)
…………………………J.
(S. ABDUL NAZEER)
.….…………………….J.
(DEEPAK GUPTA)
New Delhi
October 24, 2018
20