Delhi High Court: In a PIL filed by an advocate under Article 226 highlighting various issues pertaining to the use of electric vehicles (EVs) in the country, a division bench of Satish Chandra Sharma and Subramonium Prasad, JJ., dismissed the petition stating that the issues raised by the petitioner in the instant PIL have already been addressed through relevant statutes, rules and notifications.
The petition was filed by the Petitioner after coming across two articles in the Times of India, dated 24-04-2022 titled “Hrs after buying e-scooter, man killed, 3 kin hurt in battery blast” and “After fires, Ola to recall faulty batches of EVs” which prompted him to file the instant PIL. The petition seeks directions to the respondent authorities to make the Insurance Cover of Electric Vehicles compulsory for 2 Wheelers Electric Scooters/ Bikes in the light of provisions of Section 146 of the Motor Vehicles Act.
The petition also seeks a direction to the respondent authorities to make the wearing of Helmets compulsory for all types of Electric Bikes and 2-wheeler Electric Scooters irrespective of the wattage of the vehicle and to issue appropriate guidelines till appropriate legislation is made to ensure standardized manufacturing of reliable and long-lasting batteries which do not catch fire while being charged or otherwise. It also seeks direction to the respondent authorities for timely and early release of the subsidy to keep alive the interest of the new purchasers and to provide penal provisions for specified violations.
The Court noted that a perusal of Section 2(28) of the MV Act read with Rule 2(u) of the Central Motor Vehicle Rules makes it clear that all EVs or battery-operated vehicles, unless they fall under the exemptions provided in these provisions, are considered as “motor vehicles” under the MV Act and are governed by the provisions of the MV Act. Therefore, all the provisions under the MV Act and the CMV Rules pertaining to the requirement of registration, mandatory insurance cover, wearing of protective headgear, penal provisions etc., are applicable to EVs. Section 146 of the MV Act mandates compulsory insurance cover for all motor vehicles, which includes EVs and y, Section 129 of the MV Act makes wearing of a protective headgear/helmet compulsory for every person who is driving, riding or being carried on a motorcycle of any class or description, including electric scooters or two-wheelers.
The Court further noted that MV Act also prescribes the penalty if a person is not complying with the requirements of Sections 129 and 146, and the penalty for the same is provided for in Section 194-D and Section 196 respectively. The relevant authority that provides for technical specifications and standardization of parts and components of motor vehicles is the ARAI has not been made a party in the present PIL, however, the Ministry of Shipping, Road, Transport and Highways has vide notification dated 13-12-2004 prescribed the standard to be followed by manufacturers for manufacturing motor vehicles and their parts and components. The notification stands amended by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways vide a subsequent notification dated 15-03-2012 to provide for the standard of traction batteries to be used by manufacturers in Battery Operated Vehicles.
Counsel for GNCTD assured the Court that the subsidy offered for electric vehicles registered in the NCT of Delhi is being duly disbursed in a timely manner on a priority basis. Thus, the Court held that no orders or directions are required to be passed as the relevant provisions of the MV Act and CMV Rules are already applicable to EVs, specifically pertaining to mandatory insurance cover, wearing of headgear on two-wheelers and penal provisions for noncompliance of the provisions. Similarly, as the Union of India has already prescribed standards to be followed by manufacturers for batteries to be used in battery operated vehicles/EVs, there is no need for any orders/directions to be passed by this Court in that regard as well.
[Rajat Kapoor Advocate v Union of India, 2023 SCC OnLine Del 5666, decided on 14-09-2023]
Advocates who appeared in this case :
Petitioner in person
Mr. Gurdas Khurana, Mr. Arnav Kumar, Advocates for R-1.
Mr. Anuj Aggarwal, ASC for GNCTD with Ms. Ayushi Bansal, Ms. Arshya Singh, Mr. Aakash Dahiya, Advocates for R-2.