Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari arrive to attend the ongoing Budget Session at Parliament House in New Delhi on Tuesday.(Mohd Zakir/HT Photo)
Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari arrive to attend the ongoing Budget Session at Parliament House in New Delhi on Tuesday.(Mohd Zakir/HT Photo)

Nitin Gadkari has made many speeches on e-vehicles, want to hear him, says Supreme Court

The court was hearing a petition on Centre’s 2012 policy which mandates public transport vehicles and government fleets to switch to electric vehicles.
Hindustan Times, New Delhi | By Murali Krishnan
UPDATED ON SEP 21, 2020 07:46 AM IST

Union transport minister Nitin Gadkari’s ideas on adoption of electric vehicles could help the Supreme Court in the case seeking implementation of the 2012 government policy on electric vehicles (EVs), Chief Justice of India (CJI) Sharad Arvind Bobde said on Wednesday.

The CJI suggested that the minister’s personal presence in court to explain his views could benefit the case.

Additional Solicitor General Atmaram Nadkarni, Centre’s law officer, however, submitted that seeking a minister’s personal presence might give political colour to the case and send a wrong message. The CJI then clarified that the court is only requesting the presence of the minister to elicit his views and not indicting or passing any orders against him.

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“He has made many statements on the issue. We are not indicting or ordering him. But want to hear him,” the CJI said.

The court, however, did not pass any order to this effect; instead it gave the central government four more week to file its response to the petition.

The petition filed by NGOs Centre for Public Interest Litigation and Common Cause, and charitable trust Sitaram Jindal Foundation sought implementation of a 2012 government policy which mandates public transport vehicles and government fleets to switch to EVs in light of the serious impact of fossil fuel based vehicles on global warming, climate change and air pollution.

The petitioners submitted that the central government had, in 2012, come out with the National E-Mobility Mission Plan, 2020 (2012 plan) that made several recommendations for the adoption of EVs.

Aside from the recommendation to the Centre to shift all public transport and government fleets to EVs, the 2012 plan also suggested that subsidies should be provided to consumers for purchase of EVs and requisite charging infrastructure should be provided by mandating fast and normal charging points in apartment buildings, parking lots, government offices, malls etc.

In order to implement the plan, the government promulgated the FAME-India Scheme in 2015 and subsequently in April 2019 that provided subsidies to consumers. However, the petitioner pointed out that it failed to mandate steps for demand creation for EVs and charging infrastructure.

The petitioners told the court that whereas a modest target of sale of seven million electric vehicles was set by the 2012 plan, only 0.263 million vehicles were sold as of January 2019, showing a total failure of the FAME-India scheme.

During the earlier hearing on January 17, the court had made transport ministry a party to the case after noting that the Union transport minister had made many speeches on the subject.

“Minister of transport has been making speeches on this. Is he a party to this?” CJI Bobde had asked before directing that Ministry of Surface Transport and Highways be made a party.

The court in its order on Wednesday noted that the use of electric vehicles is connected to several other issues pending before the court relating to air pollution. All these issues should be considered simultaneously with the assistance of the authority in power which is empowered to take decisions, the court said.

“All of these issues pertain to the source of power of vehicles, public and private, and eventually have a great impact on environment not only in the NCR but the whole country,” the court said in its order.

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