The Madras High Court has directed Tamil Nadu Director-General of Police (DGP) to ensure that not even a single Bharat Stage -IV (BS-IV) motor vehicle that had been fraudulently sold and registered in the State, after the deadline fixed by the Supreme Court, continues to ply on the roads. It has ordered the seizure of all such vehicles.
Justice N. Anand Venkatesh directed the DGP to issue a circular to all police stations in the State with instructions to hand over the seized vehicles that do not comply with the new BS VI emission norms but had been sold and registered fraudulently by misusing backlog entries, to the respective Regional Transport Offices (RTOs).
The judge also directed the High Court Registry to mark a copy of his order to the DGP since the latter was not a party to a writ petition filed by a resident of Namakkal who had approached the court seeking return of a car that was seized from his house by the Kumarapalayam Motor Vehicles Inspector on October 8, 2022.
Additional Advocate General V. Arun told the court that the Supreme Court had fixed March 31, 2020 as the last date for the sale and registration of BS IV vehicles in order to contain air pollution. In violation of the court diktat, more than 290 BS IV vehicles and 25 other vehicles had been registered fraudulently between November 1, 2020 and September 22, 2022.
Therefore, the T.N. Transport Department had undertaken an exercise to identify such vehicles and cancel their registrations. Since the registration of the writ petitioner’s car too had been cancelled by invoking Section 55 of the Motor Vehicles Act of 1988, the AAG vehemently opposed the plea for return of the vehicle.
He said, serious complications would arise if the writ petitioner ends up driving the car on the roads and meets with an accident especially when its registration had been cancelled. The law officer also claimed that the car owners were not cooperating with the Transport Department officials in identifying the sellers of these vehicles.
After recording his submissions, Justice Venkatesh wrote: “The present case involves a huge racket which has cheated people by selling them vehicles which are in the category of BS IV by manipulating records. It is quite obvious that even some of the officials belonging to the RTO are part of the racket.”
The judge said, it would not be possible for anyone to get the details of backlog entries and register the vehicles fraudulently without the involvement of the Transport Department officials. “Hence, a thorough investigation is required since the respondents are supposed to comply with the mandatory directions issued by the apex court in this regard,” he added.
Further, emphasising the need for effective coordination between the police and transport departments in identifying and seizing the vehicles registered fraudulently, the judge directed the Transport Commissioner to share details of such vehicles with the Commissioners/Superintendent of Police so that they could be seized with the assistance of the traffic police too.
“There shall be a direction to identify all the accused persons who are involved in this racket and proceed further with the investigation and complete the same as expeditiously as possible,” the judge concluded.