New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday allowed diesel taxis with all India permit to operate in the national capital and its surrounding areas till their permit expires.
The ban on registration of diesel vehicles with engine capacity of 2,000 cc or above will meanwhile continue in the national capital till further orders.
A bench of Chief Justice TS Thakur, Justice AK Sikri and Justice R Banumathi said all the cabs now operating within National Capital Territory (NCT) area will be allowed to operate in National Capital Region (NCR).
Addressing the problem being faced by the people in the wake of the order banning the running of diesel cabs as flagged by the central and Delhi governments, the court said that diesel taxis holding all-India tourist permit will be allowed to operate point-to-point for the pickup and drop of the people within Delhi/NCR till the expiry of their permits.
Pointing out that these diesel vehicles operating under such permits would have to "comply with regulations of safety, security and fare", the bench said that any future renewal of their permit would be subject to an undertaking that in future they would not run their diesel taxis for the pickup and drop of people on point to point basis.
The bench said that the operators of these vehicles would faithfully adhere to the rules and regulation of the competent authority as it modified its earlier April 30 order banning the plying of the diesel cabs in NCR after it refused to give any further extension of time for diesel cab owners to switch over the cleaner CNG.
Having said this, the apex court said the government will frame suitable rules and there has to be a gradual phase out of diesel cabs.
The top court by its December 16, 2015 order had asked the diesel cab operators in Delhi to switch over to CNG by March 1, and by a January 5 order, brought in all diesel cars operating in National Capital Region in the ambit of the December 16, 2015 order while extending the deadline to March 31.
On March 31 on request by the diesel cab operators, the time was extended to April 30 with court then making it clear that it would give not further extension of time to switch over to CNG.
Appearing for IT sector apex body NASSCOM, senior counsel Kapil Sibal told the court that the prohibition on the plying of the diesel cabs could drive BPO business out of the country and adversely affect 2.5 lakhs employees working with them.
Telling the court that it needs time to phase out 14,000 taxis ferrying the BPO staff, he said that once the existing contract that various BPOs were having with can companies comes to an end, they would enter into contract with those having CNG fuelled cabs.
However, the court had earlier asked the Delhi government, the Environment Pollution Control Authority and the taxi owners association to give a concrete road map for phasing out diesel taxis from the NCR.
The development comes days after the Centre told the Supreme Court that a blanket ban on diesel vehicles in Delhi will affect the government's 'Make In India Policy' and affect the country's economy.
The Centre had also told court that there was no justification in imposing the ban on diesel cars in Delhi, as there were several factors causing the pollution.
The Centre, the Delhi government, trade body Nasscom and some private car manufacturers wanted an extension to the April 30 deadline for phasing out diesel cabs from the city. An organisation representing drivers have said it will affect nearly 30,000 drivers and their families.
On May 3, the Delhi Government had moved the top court, seeking time to phase out diesel taxis, citing law and order problem and the inconvenience to the people.
According to Nasscom, if the ban is not revoked, it will affect the $25 billion industry in the country out of which the Delhi NCR regions contributes $5 billion.
(With Agency inputs)