India’s Supreme Court bans registration of diesel SUVs in Delhi

India’s Supreme Court issued a ban effective immediately on the registration of diesel-fueled sport utility vehicles (SUVs) and other high-end diesel vehicles in Delhi with engine capacity above 2000 cc. The ban will be in effect until March 31, 2016. The move is aimed at arresting air pollution in India’s capital city.

“It is noteworthy that diesel vehicles of 2000 cc and above and SUVs are generally used by more affluent sections of our society and because of the higher engine capacity, they are more prone to cause higher levels of pollution. A ban on registration of such vehicles will not, therefore, affect the common man or the average citizen in the city of Delhi,” a bench headed by Chief Justice of India T.S. Thakur said.

The bench, which is also comprised of Justices A.K. Sikri and R. Banumathi, however, exempted new commercial light-duty diesel vehicles from the ban, citing that the public is highly dependent on such vehicles for supplying essential goods.

The highest court’s order lifts the temporary ban imposed by the National Green Tribunal last week, which banned the registration of all diesel vehicles in Delhi until Jan. 6, 2016.

According to an affidavit filed by the government in the Supreme Court last year, diesel-fuelled vehicles now account for more than 90% of SUVs in India, 34% of small cars and 70% of large and medium cars.

The bench also revived an order passed 14 years ago that prohibits goods vehicles not bound for Delhi from entering the city from entry points on two national highways. These two highways connect Delhi to Rajasthan from one side and Delhi to various northern states, such as Punjab and Haryana from the other.

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