No fuel without PUC: SC sets aside NGT order, says tribunal lacks jurisdiction

No fuel without PUC: SC sets aside NGT order, says tribunal lacks jurisdiction
People get their two-wheelers filled with petrol at a fuel station in Ahmedabad, India, May 14, 2018. Photo: Reuters
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New Delhi: The Supreme Court Friday set aside a National Green Tribunal order directing that vehicles not complying with pollution under control (PUC)norms in Madhya Pradesh would not be given petrol at fuel stations.

A bench comprising justices Arun Mishra and Indira Banerjee said the tribunal had no power, authority or jurisdiction to pass orders directing the state government to issue directions to dealers and petrol pumps not to supply fuel to vehicles without PUC Certificate.

"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 law," the bench said.

The top court said that stoppage of supply of fuel to vehicles not having valid PUC Certificate is not contemplated either in the 1989 Central Motor Vehicles Rules or the NGT Act.

"Motor vehicles not complying with the requirement of possessing and/or displaying a valid PUC certificate cannot be debarred from being supplied fuel," it said.

The top court said that by passing a blanket order to ensure that no dealer, outlet or petrol pump should supply fuel to vehicles without PUC Certificate, the NGT overlooked the fact that no vehicle can be tested for compliance without fuel.

The bench also said that NGT had no power or jurisdiction to direct the Madhya Pradesh government to deposit Rs 25 crore to secure compliance with its order.

"There is no provision in the NGT Act for deposit of security to secure compliance of an order of the tribunal," it said.

The judgement came on an appeal filed by the Madhya Pradesh government against the tribunal's April 21, 2015 order directing that motor vehicles not complying valid PUC certificate would suffer the consequence of suspension or revocation of the Registration Certificate of the vehicle.

The Bhopal bench of the NGT had also said that such vehicles would also not be provided with fuel by any dealer or petrol pumps.

The green panel had later dismissed the review plea of the state government and granted 60 days for compliance on condition that it would have to deposit Rs 25 crore with NGT Registrar.

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