The Delhi High Court issued a directive on Tuesday for the release of a number of impounded “end-of-life” vehicles. This release is contingent upon the vehicle owners agreeing to either permanently park these vehicles in private spaces or remove them from the city’s boundaries.
Justice Prateek Jalan presided over a collection of petitions contesting the confiscation of cars by authorities due to violations of judicial orders prohibiting the use of petrol and diesel vehicles that have exceeded 15 and 10 years of age, respectively.
The court instructed the Delhi government to formulate a policy concerning such vehicles when their owners pledge not to utilize them within the city and to publicly publicize this policy.
The court clarified that the objective of the policy is not to scrap the cars, but to ensure a pollution-free environment in the national capital. It stressed the need to strike a balance between an individual’s property rights and environmental concerns.
Justice Jalan’s order stated, “I am of the view that the petitioners’ grievances can be balanced with the implementation of the orders of the NGT and Supreme Court by directing the release of the vehicles to owners subject to an undertaking to remove the vehicle from the territory of NCT of Delhi and not to ply/park them in public spaces within the NCT of Delhi.”
“For parked cars, the petitioners will file an undertaking that they will not be plied or parked in public space. Petitioners will provide evidence of private space either owned or leased,” the court added, mentioning that the relevant enforcement officer would facilitate the release of the petitioners’ vehicles from the scrapping agency.
It was clarified that the undertaking provided to the transport department would stipulate that the vehicles would be towed or transported to the Delhi border for removal. Additionally, when a vehicle registered in Delhi is to be transferred outside the city, the petitioner may apply for a No Objection Certificate (NOC).
Justice Jalan emphasized that any breach of the undertaking by the vehicle owners would lead to legal action.
One petitioner argued that her vehicle, which holds “deep sentimental value,” was seized without prior notice by authorities earlier in the year while it was parked outside her residence. She informed the court that the vehicle, purchased in the year 2000, was not being driven, and she intended to convert it into an electric vehicle.
Similarly, another petitioner contested the seizure of his 12-year-old diesel car, which was parked for maintenance purposes before disposal in another state. The petitioner claimed that no law prohibits keeping old diesel vehicles and no advance notice was given prior to the seizure.
Meanwhile, on Monday, Delhi Transport Minister Kailash Gahlot directed the department to halt the confiscation of parked vehicles that have reached the end of their intended road life. Owners of such vehicles are fined if found operational on the roads.
Gahlot highlighted that the transport department’s ongoing drive to seize old vehicles, even if parked, was not approved by the government. He pointed to the serious concerns raised by the Delhi High Court regarding this matter. The court had been addressing petitions from individuals whose vehicles were seized by the department’s enforcement teams.
(With PTI inputs)