Case BriefsForeign Courts

Federal Administrative Court of Germany: Germany’s highest administrative court in Leipzig ruled in favour of upholding bans that were introduced by lower courts in the cities of Stuttgart and Düsseldorf, two of the most polluted German cities, after appeals were lodged by the states of Baden-Württemberg and North Rhine-Westphalia. Millions of heavily polluting vehicles could eventually disappear from roads across Germany after this landmark ruling. The ruling clearly states that cities have the right to ban diesel motors in an effort to improve deadly air quality levels. This, significant ruling could cause traffic chaos and dramatically hit the value of diesel vehicles.

The case was originally brought by the environmental groups Deutsche Umwelthilfe (German environmental aid or DUH) and ClientEarth, which now paves the way for cities across Germany to follow suit. The Court said it would be up to “the city” and municipal authorities to apply the bans, but advised them to “exercise proportionality” in enforcing them, and to impose them gradually, granting exemptions for certain vehicles [such as ambulances, rubbish collection lorries and police cars]. The historic decision is an incredible result for people’s health, and could have an impact in foreign courts. This long waited ruling gives legal clarity, that diesel restrictions are legally permissible and will necessarily trigger a domino effect across the country.

The Court also placed reliance on the experts, who estimated that excessive amounts of nitrogen oxides or NOx in the air kill between 6,000 and 13,000 people in Germany every year, causing a range of health conditions, from strokes to asthma. Eager to reassure anxious car owners, the government insisted nothing would change immediately and stressed that bans were not inevitable. The Court has not issued any driving bans but created clarity about the law. Precisely how many vehicles might be potentially affected by the ban remains unclear until further details. Of the 15 million diesel cars registered in Germany, around 6 million are of a “Euro 6” emissions standard that would probably escape a ban. Industry representatives have expressed their concern that they in particular might be disadvantaged in carrying out their daily business, and have called for special exemptions to avoid potentially devastating effects on the economy.

[Source: The Guardian]

Photo Courtesy: Simon, A PHOTO TOUR OF PRETTY LEIPZIG, https://wild-about-travel.com/photo-tour-pretty-leipzig/

Hot Off The PressNews

National Green Tribunal: In a relief to public sector oil companies, the National Green Tribunal has allowed registration of new diesel vehicles conforming to BS-IV norms to be used for transporting petrol or petroleum products. The order came after the oil companies told the Tribunal that they do not possess any diesel vehicle which is more than 10 years old for transporting petroleum products. The Commissioner of Transport Department of Delhi government has been directed to register the vehicles, subject to certain conditions, being –

· The new vehicles that are sought to be registered now should be BS-IV compliant.

· The said vehicle should be duly maintained and used only for exclusive purpose of carrying petroleum products and no other use.

· The applicants shall file an affidavit before the tribunal as well as before RTO that they do not possess or engage any diesel vehicle/truck which is more than 10-year-old for the purpose of transporting fuel granted by oil companies.

· Also details should be furnished of any other vehicles owned by the applicant in the form of affidavit.

The green panel further directed the department to “dismantle” old vehicles which are over 10 years of age and ordered that new vehicles should be fitted with Global Positioning Systems. The direction came on a plea filed by oil companies contending that the NGT had banned the registration of new diesel vehicles as well as re-registration of such vehicles after 10 years.

[Source: The Hindu BusinessLine]

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

National Green Tribunal (NGT): Circuit Bench of NGT at Kochi has directed that no diesel vehicle aged more than 10 years shall be allowed to ply in major cities of Kerala like Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Kochi, Thrissur, Kozhikode and Kannur. In addition, the tribunal also temporarily banned registration of new diesel vehicles over 2,000CC and only vehicles for public transport and those to be used by local authorities have been exempted in the order. NGT issued the said interim order while hearing a petition filed by Lawyers’ Environmental Awareness Forum. “We direct that all the diesel vehicles whether light or heavy which are more than 10 years shall not be permitted to ply on the roads in the major cities like Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Kochi, Thrissur, Kozhikode and Kannur,” NGT noted. The Tribunal further added that upon expiry of 30 days from May 23, 2016, i.e. the date of issuance of the said interim order, if any vehicle is found to be violating this direction, it shall pay Rs. 5000 as environmental compensation and this will be collected by traffic police or pollution control board. “The State Pollution Control Board shall maintain a separate account in this behalf. The Fund so collected shall be spent only for betterment of environment in these cities (where the ban would be in force),” the Tribunal directed. In its order, NGT also referred to orders passed by its larger bench in Vardhman Kaushik v. Union of India, 2014 SCC OnLine NGT 2365, by which all vehicles aged over 15 years were banned from the roads in Delhi. While concluding the order, NGT directed the State of Kerala to inform the availability of CNG gas for running of vehicles in the entire State. [Lawyers’ Environmental Awareness Forum v. State of Kerala, 2016 SCC OnLine NGT 163, dated: May 23, 2016]