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NEW DELHI : The Supreme Court on Thursday permitted the registration of only those Bharat Stage-IV (BS-IV) vehicles that were sold before the nationwide lockdown commenced on 25 March, and whose details have been uploaded on the government’s Vahan portal.

An apex court bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra held that it would not allow registration of vehicles sold during the lockdown. Details of vehicles not uploaded on the Vahan portal also would not be allowed to be registered, it said.

“We cannot allow registration of vehicles in Delhi NCR," Justice Mishra said. However, he clarified that all registrations on the Vahan portal, including temporary registrations, done before the lockdown began would be allowed.

As many as 1.1 million vehicles compliant with the BS-IV emission norms were sold between 12 March and 31 March, according to data submitted by the government through the ministry of road, transport and highways (MoRTH). More than 250,000 such vehicles were sold during 29 March to 31 March, when stringent curbs were imposed across the country, the data showed. India shifted to the stricter BS-VI emission norms on 1 April.

Meanwhile, data submitted by the Federation of Automobile Dealers Associations of India (Fada) showed combined sales of 225,247 vehicles, comprising 94,076 vehicles sold by its dealer members and 131,717 vehicles sold by non-members of the lobby group after March.

Expressing its annoyance at Fada for the high number of sales during lockdown, the bench said: “You have made more sales during the lockdown. Don’t play fraud with the court." The bench added that the grace period of 10 days was allowedonly because of covid-19 for the registration of those vehicles already sold and not for sale of more vehicles during the grace period. “How could you make sales during lockdown?" the top court asked.

Senior advocate K.V. Vishwanathan, representing Fada submitted before the bench that “sales took place online…. There were sales because the purchasers had certain mahurats. Many such sales took place."

In 2017, the apex court had ordered the suspension of sales and registration of BS-IV vehicles from 1 April 2020, to control the rising pollution levels in the country.

On 8 July, the top court recalled its 27 March order under which it had allowed the sale of BS-IV vehicles for 10 days across India, except in Delhi-NCR, after lifting the lockdown imposed to contain the spread of coronavirus.

The Supreme Court had on 27 March said it was permitting the sale of 10% of unsold BS-IV vehicles to make up for six days lost in March because of the nationwide lockdown.

MoRTH, in compliance with the order dated 24 July, filed an affidavit giving details of vehicles that were uploaded on the Vahan portal after 31 March. The court had said that it will “protect" only those vehicles that have been registered on the portal. Fada has, meanwhile, been directed to provide details of vehicles sold to the government.

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