Mumbai: The Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (Siam) is considering filing a review petition in the Supreme Court challenging the apex court’s order of 29 March banning sales and registration of BS-III vehicles after 31 March, said four people aware of the matter who asked not to be identified.
The petition is likely to be filed sometime this week, said one of the people cited above. “Most likely, it’s going to be a prayer seeking permission for a window to allow sale of BS-III vehicles.”
Vishnu Mathur, director general, Siam, declined comment.
BS-III stands for Bharat Stage III emission norms.
In submissions to the Supreme Court ahead of the 29 March ruling, auto makers said there were 800,000 unsold two-wheelers, commercial vehicles (both small and large), passenger vehicles and three-wheelers compliant with BS-III norms. Of these, around 100,000 were commercial vehicles. A majority of the vehicles, around 670,000, were scooters and motorcycles. Firms offered steep discounts on BS-III scooters and motorcycles in the run-up to the 31 March deadline and managed to sell most of them.
Even as auto makers abided by the order and stopped sale of BS-III vehicles, they have been ruing the inconsistent regulations.
“As per the government notification, sales of BS-III vehicles were allowed after 1 April. Now suddenly those BS-III vehicles are banned. I find it quite frustrating that something like this happens,” Vinod Dasari, president of the auto industry body, told Press Trust of India after the 29 March order.
Ravindra Pisharody, executive director, commercial vehicles at Tata Motors Ltd, said the firm has an unsold stock of 15,000 units (including small commercial vehicles such as Ace) He declined to comment on whether Siam is looking to file a review petition.
Ashok Leyland Ltd, the second largest truck and bus maker in the country, has an unsold stock of 10,664 vehicles, said Gopal Mahadevan, chief financial officer.
Availability of fuel of the requisite quality prevented manufacturers from producing BS-IV vehicles, said Mahadevan. “Our intention was not to postpone the implementation of stricter regulations,” he added.
Vinod Aggarwal, managing director and CEO at Volvo Eicher Commercial Vehicles, said the firm has a stock of 1,500 vehicles. He said he is not aware of Siam’s plans of filing a review petition.
In January 2015, the government issued a notification that said all vehicles—passenger and commercial—must be BS-IV compliant by 31 March. Concerns over pollution prompted the government last year to proclaim India would move up to the toughest automobile emission standards of BS-VI by 2020, skipping BS-V.
Anumita Roychowdhury, executive director, research and advocacy and head of the air pollution and clean transportation programme at the Centre for Science and Environment, said that with a nationwide roll-out of BS-IV happening seven years after it was first mandated in the top 26 cities, India is already lagging behind in emission standards. “Moreover, auto makers had the technical know-how. All they needed to do was proactively ramp down the BS-III models, which some of the manufacturers did,” she said.
In his 30-page order on 29 March, Supreme Court justice Madan B. Lokur said: “The automobile industry had, at the very minimum, a five-year warning that it would have to consider issues relating to air pollution as part of its manufacturing activities and production strategy and thereafter the industry had over five years to plan out its activities and revisit the strategy, but did not do so.”
Nitesh Sharma, analyst at Phillip Capital India (Pvt.) Ltd, said owing to unsold inventory, margins of two-wheeler and commercial vehicle makers would likely take a one-time hit of up to 200 basis points.
One basis point is one-hundredth of a percentage point.