The Delhi High Court has stayed the operation of Delhi government’s order to delist Tata Nexon EV from the list of electronic vehicle models that are given purchase incentives/subsidies under Delhi Electric Vehicles Policy (Tata Motors vs GNCTD).
A single-judge Bench of Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva said that the Delhi government’s order is contrary to the policy of the government.
“The impugned order is contrary to the policy of the government and rather defeats the very purpose of the scheme of the Policy of Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric Vehicles. Admittedly the vehicle of the petitioner meets the criteria laid down by the policy and has also been so certified by the Statutory Testing Agency ARAI,” the order said.
Under the Delhi Electric Vehicles Policy 2020, purchase incentive is awarded to electric four-wheelers with advanced batteries listed after meeting certain eligibility criteria.
The Deputy Commissioner (OP-I) passed the interim order delisting the Tata Nexon EV from the list of vehicles covered under the policy after a complaint was made to it with respect to its mileage.
As per the complainant, although Tata Nexon EV was specified to provide 312 kilometres range in a single charge, the customer never got a range of more than 200 kilometres.
Noting this allegation, the Delhi government order inter alia stated that a government could not support the sale of vehicles of a company that was not honest with respect to its capacity/capability/representation and directed the constitution of a committee to verify the claim of the complainants as well as assertions made by Tata Motors.
Challenging the suspension, Tata Motors (petitioner) argued that its claim was based on the assessment report given by Automotive Research Association of India, Pune (ARAI).
It was stated that ARAI conducted testing in ideal test conditions which are different from the actual road conditions and there were bound to be variation between the test results of ideal conditions and test results of city or highway driving conditions.
The petitioner further submitted that the eligibility criteria of 140 kilometres in a single charge was met anyway by it and mentioned in its documentations.
Stating that Tata Nexon was the highest selling EV in the country, the petitioner argued that if the delisting is not stayed, not only would the sales of the vehicle be hampered but its reputation would also take a hit.
The Delhi government argued that withdrawal of subsidy was purely within the domain of a government.
It was further claimed that the petitioner had made a false claim that their vehicles achieve a range of 312 kilometres per charge though as per the complaint received, the range achieved was far less than 312 kilometres.
The Court prima facie opined that none of the submissions made by the government were sustainable for the reason that the Delhi EV Policy and the Central Motor Vehicle Rules admittedly prescribe the eligibility criteria for grant of listing as 140 kilometres per charge.
Taken from any angle, neither the complaint nor the impugned order states that the minimum range of 140 kilometres was not met, the Court noted.
“The impugned order also records that the complaint which was received stated that the performance range achieved is 200 kilometres per charge. This is far greater than the specified range of 140 kilometres per charge.
It is common knowledge that performance of a vehicle would depend on the driving conditions inter alia the driving capabilities of the driver and the road & traffic conditions,” the order said.
The Court further noted that the impugned order itself showed that there was no test report or material before the officer which suggested that the minimum criterion as specified in the Central Motor Vehicle Rules or in the Policy was not met.
“The impugned order rather constitutes a Committee of representatives from four organizations including the petitioner to verify the claim of the claimants as well as the assertion made by the petitioner. This goes on to show that there was no concrete material before the officer, when the impugned order was passed. The impugned order has been passed without any verification,” the Court observed.
The Court further clarified that although an officer may be empowered to carry out an inspection of the vehicle to ascertain any claims, it cannot replace the test carried out by the Statutory Testing Agency.
The report of such an inspection can, at best, be used for taking further steps like directing a fresh examination by the Statutory Testing Agency but cannot form the basis of rejecting the certification of the Statutory Testing Agency, the Court added.
Observing that the benefit of the Subsidy Policy was sought to be withdrawn merely on an allegation which was still to be verified, the Court concluded that the petitioner had shown a strong prima facie case for grant of interim relief in its favour.
The delisting was accordingly stayed by the Court.
The Court also issued notice in the petition and sought response from the Delhi government and the complainant.
The matter would be heard next on April 13.
Senior Advocates Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Rajiv Nayar and Gopal Jain along with advocates Nandini Gore, Amit Bhandari, Natasha Sahrawat, Raghvendra Pratap Singh appeared for the petitioner.
Delhi government was represented by Additional Solicitor General Chetan Sharma, Standing Counsel Ramesh Singh with Advocates Sameer Vashisht, Amit Gupta, Akshay Gadeock, Sahaj Garg, R. Venkat Prabhat, Manashwy Jha.