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Last Updated : May 06, 2019 07:09 PM IST | Source: PTI

Emission fiasco: No coercive action against Volkswagen, says SC

The court order came on the eve of the deadline set by the NGT for Volkswagen India Private Limited, Indian subsidiary of German auto major, to deposit the fine with the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).

In a relief to German auto major Volkswagen, the Supreme Court on May 6 restrained the Centre from taking any "coercive" step against it for non-submission of Rs 500 crore fine imposed by the National Green Tribunal for damaging environment through use of "cheat device" in its diesel cars in India.

The court order came on the eve of the deadline set by the NGT for Volkswagen India Private Limited, Indian subsidiary of German auto major, to deposit the fine with the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).

"Issue notice. In the meantime, no coercive steps shall be taken against the appellant viz., Volkswagen India Private Limited," a bench of justices S A Bobde and S Abdul Nazeer, said.

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The bench was hearing separate appeals filed by the auto major and the Inter Continental Association of Lawyers against the March 7 order of the green tribunal imposing the Rs 500-crore fine.

The company has already deposited Rs 100 crore with the CPCB.

Senior advocate A M Singhvi, appearing for the auto major, said that the company was being penalised on the basis of a set of laws that did not exist at the first place. The senior lawyer said that he suspected the firm has been victimised at the instance of its competitors.

Earlier, a green panel bench headed by chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel had directed the carmaker to deposit the amount within two months with CPCB.

The tribunal had enhanced the compensation amount of Rs 171.34 crore, which was recommended by a NGT-appointed committee, to Rs 500 crore as a means of "creating deterrence".

The auto maker, however, had said that it did not violate the BS-IV norms and that the test results were based on "on road testings" for which there were no prescribed standards.

The NGT, in its order, had said that apex pollution monitoring body CPCB may consider utilising the money towards improving air quality in the National Capital Region and other highly polluted areas.

The green panel on November 16, 2018 had said that use of 'cheat device' by Volkswagen in diesel cars in India leads to inference of environmental damage and had directed it to deposit an interim amount of Rs 100 crore with the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).

The tribunal was hearing pleas filed by Ailawadi, a school teacher, and a few others seeking ban on the sale of Volkswagen vehicles for alleged violation of emission norms.

A 'cheat' or 'defeat device' is a software in diesel engines to manipulate emission tests by changing the performance of the cars globally.

Volkswagen India had in December 2015 announced the recall of 3,23,700 lakh vehicles in India to fix the emission software after ARAI conducted tests on some models and found that their on-road emissions were 1.1 times to 2.6 times higher than the applicable BS-IV norms.

The automobile giant had admitted to the use of 'defeat device' in 11 million diesel engine cars sold in the US, Europe and other global markets to manipulate emission test results.

After the tests by ARAI, Volkswagen India had undertaken to rejig the software by recalling around 3.23 lakh vehicles fitted with EA 189 diesel engines which were in alleged violation of emission norms.

The company, however, had said that the recall in India was purely voluntary in nature as it did not face any charges regarding violating emission norms in India, unlike in the US.
First Published on May 6, 2019 07:08 pm
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