New Delhi : The Supreme Court on Wednesday expressed willingness to interact with Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari to consider issues related to procurement of electric vehicles (EVs), which could play a major role in curbing air pollution, for public transport and setting up charging infrastructure for these vehicles in the country.
A bench headed by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde and comprising Justices B.R. Gavai and Surya Kant asked Additional Solicitor General N.S. Nadkarni if the minister can come over for an interaction on this matter, and assist the court.
“Could the minister come to the Supreme Court and explain the proposal to introduce vehicles run on electricity/hydrogen,” the court queried.
Nadkarni replied this may send a wrong message and political colour get added to it, otherwise, the minister would be happy to come to the top court. As the court clarified that there is nothing political about it, he also said that there was nothing wrong in politicians coming to the court.
The court said “We understand Prashant Bhushan is a political person, but he will not argue with the minister.”
The observation from the top court came during the hearing on the plea of an NGO, represented by Bhushan, on the implementation of the National E-Mobility Mission Plan (NEMMP), 2020. According to this scheme, the government was to procure electric vehicles.
The apex court, in its order, clarified it would like to consider issues related to EVs with the “assistance of an authority” empowered to take decisions.
Speaking to IANS later, Nadkarni clarified “The observation from the top court was an invite to the Transport Minister.”
The top court also recommended government to explore possibilities of making EVs affordable. Bhushan argued under the scheme the authorities were supposed to encourage sale of EVs through subsidies, and also provide charging infrastructure at public places like malls and petrol pumps.
Bhushan told the apex court that the government claimed by 2020, seven million EVs will be on roads, but not even a quarter million are there.
As the top court queried Bhushan on how to make EVs affordable, he replied that the section should receive a tax cut, adding that CNG is not the real alternative to petrol and diesel vehicles.
“CNG involves burning carbon, which increases the level of carbon in the atmosphere leading to global warming. CNG was an intermediate step, and not alternate source of power,” he contended.
Bhushan insisted the government should charge extra from petrol and diesel vehicles and use it for providing subsidy to EVs.
The top court said the issue of use of EVs is connected to several others issues which are pending before the court, and all these issues pertains to source of power for vehicles including public vehicles. The court observed that these vehicles would eventually have a great impact on the environment of Delhi NCR and the whole country.
“We consider simultaneously all the issues with the assistance of an authority empowered to take decision,” it said, listing the matter’s next hearing after four weeks.