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Legal Recourse for Disagreement: Contesting India’s Vehicle Scrapping Policy

Anyone can go before the judiciary to challenge the legality of the vehicle scrapping policy if they feel that it violates any of their constitutional rights or fundamental rights.

Kanishka Singh, a 5th Year law student at MIT WPU SOL has written this article “Legal Recourse for Disagreement: Contesting India’s Vehicle Scrapping Policy. This article offers insights into the legal procedures that enable active participation in the policy-making sphere, from contesting the constitutionality of the policy through judicial review to starting Public Interest Litigations (PILs) aimed at defending the interests of the public at large.


The National Green Tribunal and the government were at odds in 2015 over a ban on used cars in the vicinity of the national capital. The country urgently needed a programme that would take into account destroying old automobiles nationwide and considered pollution as a concern that was as great to Delhi as it was to the rest of the nation. India now officially has one thanks to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who at the Gujrat investment meeting officially unveiled the National Vehicle Scrappage Policy. The news follows Nirmala Sitharaman, the finance minister, who last week launched a voluntary car disposal programme to gradually phase out outdated and unsafe automobiles. The measure will presumably go into effect on October 1, 2021.

In September 2021, India had announced the draft of a new vehicle scrapping policy known as the Voluntary Vehicle Fleet Modernization Program (V-VMP). Vehicles that are old, inefficient, and poorly maintained are one of the biggest sources of pollution. In India, the Vehicle Scrappage Policy was implemented to address this issue.

The main objective of India’s vehicle scrapping programme, known as the Voluntary car Fleet Modernization Programme, is to encourage the replacement of outdated and polluting vehicles with newer, safer, and more ecologically friendly vehicles. The policy applies to individual automobiles that are more than 20 years old and commercial vehicles that are more than 15 years old. To encourage car owners, the government intends to give financial incentives such as tax exemptions, discounts, or refunds on the purchase of new vehicles to those who voluntarily elect to destroy their old ones.

Furthermore, the programme recommends imposing a green tax on cars older than a certain age, with the goal of discouraging the use of more polluting vehicles while earning cash for the government. The strategy also aims to create an ecosystem for ecologically responsible recycling and scrapping of outdated automobiles. Finally, the policy’s implementation is projected to minimise traffic pollution and enhance overall air quality in the country.

This article explores the legal options open to people and groups opposed to India’s policy on vehicle scrapping. It looks at the several channels opposing parties might use to communicate their concerns and possibly influence the policy. This article offers insights into the legal procedures that enable active participation in the policy-making sphere, from contesting the constitutionality of the policy through judicial review to starting Public Interest Litigations (PILs) aimed at defending the interests of the public at large.

Reasons for disagreement

Individuals and organisations may have different reasons for opposing India’s vehicle scrapping policy:

  • Economic Implications: The public may argue that the scrapping policy will harm the automotive industry and small businesses, particularly those involved in the resale and repair of older vehicles. They may be concerned about job losses and potential disruptions to their livelihoods.      
  • Financial Burden on Vehicle Owners: Owners of older vehicles that do not meet the scrapping criteria may object to the policy due to the financial burden of replacing them with newer vehicles.          
  • Environmental Efficacy: While the policy aims to reduce pollution by replacing older vehicles with newer, more environmentally friendly vehicles, critics may question the policy’s actual impact on overall air quality and environmental health. They may argue that other factors, such as industrial emissions or construction activities, contribute significantly to pollution and should be given more consideration.      
  • Inadequate Incentives: Some may argue that the government’s incentives to encourage vehicle scrapping are insufficient or not appealing enough to entice vehicle owners to participate in the programme.   
  • Lack of Infrastructure and Recycling Facilities: Opponents of the policy may point to a lack of adequate infrastructure and recycling facilities to handle the large number of scrapped vehicles, raising environmental concerns about vehicle disposal.         
  • Impact on Vintage and Classic Vehicles: Due to the policy’s strict age requirements, vintage and classic car enthusiasts may express concerns about the potential loss of historically significant automobiles.        
  • Impact on Low-Income Groups Disproportionate: Some critics may claim that the scrapping policy unfairly targets low-income car owners who might have trouble affording newer models, potentially reducing their access to dependable transportation.
  • Alternative Solutions: Those who oppose the policy may suggest different ways to reduce pollution and advance sustainable mobility, such as tighter emission regulations, encouraging public transportation, or providing incentives for the purchase of electric vehicles.      
  • Implementation Challenges: Those who disagree may voice concerns about the practical difficulties in successfully implementing the policy, such as unclear criteria for repeal, potential for corruption during the process, or insufficient enforcement mechanisms.

It is crucial to understand that these points of disagreement do not downplay the significance of environmentally friendly transportation and environmental preservation. Rather, they represent various viewpoints that can help make the policy-making process more thorough and well-rounded. By addressing these issues and having a productive conversation, policy changes can be made that better serve the needs of all parties involved while also achieving the overarching objectives of a greener and safer transportation ecosystem.

Judicial Review and Constitutional Validity

Judicial review is the procedure by which the courts determine whether a government action, law, or policy is legal and constitutional. Anyone can go before the judiciary to challenge the legality of the vehicle scrapping policy if they feel that it violates any of their constitutional rights or fundamental rights.

A policy’s constitutionality is determined by how closely it adheres to the Indian Constitution’s principles. It should not infringe upon any fundamental rights, and the government body that implemented the policy should have legislative authority over it.

The Supreme Court and High Courts of India, among other courts, are crucial in ensuring that governmental actions and policies are in line with the Constitution. The courts would consider the arguments and evidence presented by both the petitioner and the government and decide on the constitutional validity of the vehicle scrapping policy if there were any challenges or petitions related to it.

Here are some general guidelines on how to determine if a policy upholds constitutional principles and fundamental rights:

  • Right to Property: As a fundamental right protected by Article 300A of the Indian Constitution, the right to property is one of the most important factors to take into account. If the policy calls for the forced destruction of automobiles without providing enough compensation or a valid reason, it may be held accountable for violating this right.
  • Right to Life and Livelihood: It is possible to assess how the policy would affect citizens’ rights to life and a means of subsistence. It might pose constitutional issues if it negatively impacts people’s capacity to earn a living or access basic services.
  • Right to Equality: No specific group of citizens should be subjected to discrimination based on arbitrary criteria. The guarantee of equality under Article 14 of the Constitution may be violated if the policy unfairly affects some segments of society.
  • Environmental Protection: On the other hand, the goal of the policy, which is to reduce traffic-related pollution and enhance air quality, is consistent with the constitutional principle of environmental protection, which is regarded as a component of the right to life under Article 21.
  • Public Interest: From a constitutional standpoint, it may be claimed that the policy is reasonable and lawful if it is intended to serve the general public interest and welfare.

It is crucial to remember that judicial review is frequently used to determine constitutional legitimacy and adherence to fundamental rights. Any citizen or organisation may challenge the car scrapping policy in court if they believe it violates constitutional principles or fundamental rights. The legitimacy of the policy will then be determined by the court after considering its terms and how they affect citizens’ rights. 

Public Interest Litigation (PIL) Against the Vehicle Scrapping Policy

A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) is a strong legal instrument that enables people or organisations to bring up issues of public concern in court. It gives concerned citizens the ability to pursue justice, defend their fundamental rights, and deal with problems that have a big effect on a lot of people in society. The following steps must be followed in order to file a PIL challenging India’s policy on vehicle scrapping:

  • Identifying the Issue-:
    Specific components of the car scrapping policy should be challenged.    
  • Gathering Relevant Information:      
    Gather extensive data, facts, and legal precedents to back up the PIL.    
  • Engaging Legal Experts:       
    Seek the advice of an experienced lawyer or a public interest advocate.        
  • Drafting the PIL Petition:      
    Write a clear, succinct petition outlining the reasons for contesting the policy’s effects on a significant portion of society.
  • Approaching the Court:         
    In order to contact the court, submit a PIL to the High Court or Supreme Court and pay the necessary fees.
  • Notification of Concerned Parties:    
    Notify the government and other pertinent parties, along with copies of the PIL petition.
  • Preliminary Hearing and Admission:
    The court will hold a preliminary hearing to determine the merit of the PIL and, if it is valid, to admit the case.
  • Reply and Counterarguments from Respondents:     
    The respondents will present their responses and counterarguments.
  • Hearing and Decision:           
    The court will listen to both sides’ arguments and issue a decision.

The Significance of PILs in Addressing Issues Affecting a Large Section of Society:

Public Interest Litigations play a crucial role in a democratic society, lawsuits are essential because they enable regular people to act as social activists and pursue justice in cases that have an impact on the public at large. PILs give voice to disadvantaged and vulnerable groups in society whose voices might not otherwise be heard.

PIL can be helpful in addressing any negative effects on different stakeholder groups, the environment, or the overall economy in the context of the vehicle scrapping policy. PILs support a more inclusive and well-rounded approach to policymaking by allowing a wide range of viewpoints and issues to be heard.

Additionally, PILs have the potential to establish legal precedents that affect upcoming policies and initiatives, encouraging accountability, transparency, and good governance. PILs have an impact that goes beyond specific cases because court rulings can have a significant impact on related problems across the nation.

In conclusion, PILs are an effective tool for holding government officials responsible, protecting the public’s interests, and ensuring that all government policies, including the one regarding vehicle scrapping, are in line with the overarching objectives of sustainable development and the welfare of society.

One of the most successful PIL cases in India: MC MEHTA VS UNION OF INDIA 1991[1]

This was a landmark judgement in India’s approach to vehicular pollution. Later, the Supreme Court issued rulings mandating the use of lead-free petrol across the country as well as the use of natural gas and other modes of fuel in cars. In 1995, four major cities embraced lead-free fuel. To minimise pollution, catalytic converters were installed in all vehicles made from 1995. CNG gas outlets have been installed to supply CNG gas to automobiles. As a consequence of this lawsuit, Delhi became the world’s first city to have fully operational public transit powered by compressed natural gas.

Seeking Judicial Stay on Implementation

Seeking a judicial stay on the implementation of the vehicle scrapping policy in India involves specific legal procedures. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to pursue a stay order:

  • Grounds for Seeking Stay:  
    Clearly state the reasons why the policy’s execution should be paused. Concerns from stakeholders may not have been properly taken into account, potential irreparable harm, or questions about the constitutional legality.   
  • Engage Legal Representation:        
    Select a qualified attorney or legal professional with expertise managing matters involving policy challenges or stays, preferably one who focuses on constitutional or administrative law.   
  • Drafting the Stay Petition:  
    Attorney must assist in drafting a thorough stay petition that outlines the justifications for the request for a delay as well as any potential repercussions of implementing the policy at issue.           
  • Filing the Stay Petition: File the stay petition with the appropriate court (High Court or Supreme Court), where the PIL or challenge to the vehicle scrapping policy is already being heard or will be heard.
  • Notice to Respondents:        
    Provide notice of the stay petition’s filing to all respondents, including the government and any other pertinent parties, and inform them of the impending court hearing.
  • Presenting Arguments:        
    On the day of the hearing, your attorney will provide reasons in favour of the necessity for a delay in the implementation of the policy on car scrapping. They must show the urgency of the situation and the probable harm that might result from continuing to apply the policy.
  • Court Decision:        
    Whether to grant or reject the stay order will depend on the reasons and facts presented by both sides. Until the lawsuit is eventually resolved, the court may issue a stay order or an interim stay.   
  • Compliance with Court Orders:    
    If the court granted the stay, the relevant authorities—including the government—must abide by the ruling and cease enforcing the policy until the court makes a final determination.

Participation and Public Awareness

  • The project requires significant financial investments in infrastructure and logistics. The policy’s main funding sources are private investors and foreign capital. However, they will concentrate on affluent areas where they can turn a profit. Small towns and outlying locations won’t be able to profit from the programme.
  • Many automobile owners are hesitant to take their vehicles to be scrapped since they might be able to sell them for more money. To entice more owners, the government must strive to provide a greater scrapping price.     
  • Concerns about second and third-hand automobile owners have been expressed by several state governments (such as Tamil Nadu). They assert that if they choose for scrapping, it would be extremely impossible for them to recover the worth of their car.
  • Older car deregistration is a difficult process. Such difficult processes put obstacles in the way of regular men. For the policy to be implemented successfully, a more straightforward single window mechanism for registration is needed.
  • One of the biggest issues is that Indians seriously lack knowledge of the policy’s advantages. Social media, television commercials, and other forms of mass media should be used by the government to reach the general public and spread awareness of the programme.

Particularly when it comes to problems that have an influence on public welfare and the environment, like the vehicle scrapping policy in India, civil society organisations and activists are vital in promoting policy reforms and legal challenges. Their engagement and efforts have a number of important consequences:

  1. Increasing Popular Awareness
  2. Representing the public interest
  3. Promoting changes to policy
  4. The submission of PILs (public interest litigations)
  5. Monitoring the Application of Policy
  6. Cooperation and coalition formation
  7. Offering knowledge and research
  8. Public Protest and Mobilisation
  9. Developing Platforms for Dialogue
  10. Promoting Sustainable Solutions

Overall, civil society organisations and activists play a crucial role as a check and balance in the democratic process, ensuring that decisions are made in the public’s best interests and are subject to scrutiny. Their legal challenges and advocacy work may result in more inclusive, equitable, and long-lasting policy solutions.

Future Outlook

The Indian policy on automobile scrapping may be improved and expanded over time, like with any policy, to meet new issues and more effectively accomplish its intended objectives.

When considering changes and expansions to the car scrapping policy, officials must take into account input from stakeholders, professional judgements, and advancing technical developments. In order to maintain the policy’s relevance and effectiveness in accomplishing India’s sustainable transportation and environmental goals, flexibility and adaptation will be essential.

Considering the potential long-term impacts of India’s policy on car scrapping, it is expected that both the environment and the transportation industry would be significantly impacted. The following situations are conceivable; however, the precise results will depend on how the policy is applied and any prospective revisions:

With the progressive phasing out of older, more harmful cars and the promotion of the adoption of newer, more efficient ones, the vehicle scrapping policy is anticipated to modernise India’s transportation industry. The policy’s emphasis on green technology, such as electric cars and alternative fuels, is projected to hasten the nation’s transition to environmentally friendly transportation options while lowering reliance on fossil fuels. The strategy may also promote sales and manufacture of new vehicles, which would be advantageous for the car sector.

As people upgrade their outdated automobiles, there may be a higher dependence on public transportation, which might spur investments in public transit infrastructure and improve public transportation services. Small-scale businesses that sell and fix cars may have difficulties, but there may be chances in the growing demand for green technology and cutting-edge automobiles, which will encourage innovation and growth in the automotive industry.

The strategy of car scrapping is anticipated to significantly improve environmental conditions. The programme will enhance air quality through phase-out older, high-emission automobiles, resulting to better public health outcomes and a decrease in respiratory infections. By lowering greenhouse gas emissions, promoting the use of greener cars, such as electric and low-emission choices, can aid India’s efforts to combat climate change. The proper recycling and disposal of abandoned automobiles will save resources and promote a circular economy that is more sustainable. Additionally, the promotion of more modern, technologically superior automobiles is probably going to lessen urban noise pollution, making for a more tranquil living environment.

Indirect benefits of biodiversity, such as healthier ecosystems, can also result from improved air quality brought on by lower emissions. The policy is expected to have a significant positive impact on the environment overall, supporting India’s commitment to environmental protection and sustainable development.

The following are some probable directions in which the policy may go in the future:

Incentives and Subsidies: The incentives provided to car owners who take part in the scrapping programme may be revised and increased by the government. More tax breaks or financial incentives might persuade more individuals to switch from their older, dirtier automobiles to newer, cleaner ones.

Specialised Assistance for Low-Income Vehicle Owners: To mitigate the potential financial burden on low-income vehicle owners, the policy could include targeted support mechanisms such as subsidies, low-interest loans, or assistance in purchasing more affordable second-hand vehicles that meet environmental standards.

Improving Recycling Infrastructure: The environmental impact of the strategy would be strengthened by enlarging and upgrading recycling facilities to manage the rising volume of trashed automobiles. For sustainable waste management, it is essential to ensure efficient recycling and safe disposal of hazardous elements from obsolete cars.

Promoting the Use of Electric Vehicles: The programme may offer extra incentives and infrastructural assistance to electric car owners in an effort to boost electric mobility. This can entail lowered traffic fines, the construction of charging stations, and financial incentives for automakers to create reasonably priced electric vehicles.

Revision of the Age and Emission Norms: The age and emission standards for the car scrapping policy may need to be reviewed and adjusted on a regular basis to keep up with technological breakthroughs and shifting environmental needs.

Investment in public transport: Public transport infrastructure may benefit from further investment, which would make it a more practical and desirable alternative for commuters. The need for personal automobiles can be decreased overall with an effective public transit system.

Concerns Regarding Vintage and Classic Cars: The policy should include clauses to safeguard and promote old and classic cars with historical value in order to maintain automotive history. These vehicles may be subject to special exclusions or rules that guarantee their preservation while upholding environmental requirements.

Incorporating Circular Economy Principles: Expanding the policy to include circular economy principles can encourage the re-use, refurbishment, and remanufacturing of vehicle components, reducing waste and resource consumption.

Green technology promotion: The policy may promote the creation of green technology and the use of sustainable materials in the production of vehicles.

Continuous Monitoring and Evaluation: To find any flaws and gauge the policy’s efficacy, it is crucial to regularly monitor and evaluate its results. Regular assessments enable required modifications and advancements throughout time.

Integration with Smart City Initiatives: Integrating the scrapping of vehicles with smart city programmes and intelligent transportation systems can result in improved traffic management and less congestion, which would further improve environmental advantages.

The vehicle scrapping policy appears to have positive long-term effects, but its effectiveness will depend on how well it is put into practise, how it is continually assessed, and how well it can respond to new challenges. The policy’s overall effect on India’s transportation industry and the environment in the years to come will be greatly influenced by how well it is integrated with other sustainable transportation and environmental initiatives.

A Lesson To Be Learnt From Germany’s Mistakes

When implementing their vehicle scrappage policy, even automotive powerhouses like Germany ran into difficulties in comparison to developed nations. An unanticipated problem arose when vehicle scrapping became required; instead of properly scrapping old cars, some scrapyards started illegally exporting them to underdeveloped African countries. As a result, the planet’s overall carbon footprint essentially remained unchanged.

This situation highlights the complexity of implementing vehicle scrappage policies and the potential unintended consequences that can arise. While such policies aim to promote environmental sustainability by replacing old, polluting vehicles with newer, more efficient ones, the improper disposal or export of scrapped vehicles can negate the intended benefits.

In order to ensure that initiatives for vehicle scrappage achieve their intended environmental goals, countries like India can learn a lot from the German experience, which emphasises the significance of comprehensive and well-regulated policy frameworks. To prevent any gaps that might undermine the policy’s efficacy, it emphasises the need for rigorous monitoring, enforcement, and cooperation among all stakeholders.

India can work towards an efficient and sustainable vehicle scrappage programme that actually benefits the environment and is in line with global climate targets by studying the experiences of other countries and putting proactive measures into place.

Landmark Cases

T.N. Godavarman Thirumulkpad v. Union of India (1996)[2]: In this case, the Supreme Court extended its jurisdiction to protect forests and the environment, setting guidelines for the scrapping of old vehicles and ensuring compliance with emission norms.

Centre for Public Interest Litigation v. Union of India (2012)[3]: This case dealt with the issue of air pollution in Delhi and highlighted the importance of implementing the National Green Tribunal’s orders regarding vehicular emissions.

Vardhaman Kaushik v. Union of India (2016)[4]: In this case, the National Green Tribunal directed the Delhi government to cancel the registration of diesel vehicles older than 10 years to curb air pollution.

M.C. Mehta v. Union of India (2020)[5]: The Supreme Court imposed a fine on the government for not filing a compliance report on the measures taken to control vehicular pollution and enforce emission norms.


In order to achieve sustainable transportation and environmental preservation, India’s policy on car scrapping is an essential step. Many aspects of this policy, such as the legal channels for disagreement and the critical function of Public Interest Litigations (PILs) in defending the public good and guaranteeing governmental transparency.

In light of these issues, civil society organisations and passionate activists emerged as effective spokespersons, focusing public attention and promoting productive conversation to create more inclusive and fair legislative changes.

The transportation industry is poised for a positive transition when we consider the long-term impacts of the legislation, ushering in a modernised fleet with an accelerated move towards eco-friendly technology. The advantages for the environment, including better air quality, lower greenhouse gas emissions, resource conservation, and decreased noise pollution, emphasise its potential to improve everyone’s quality of life.

The car scrapping policy represents a firm commitment to a greener and more just future for India, in conclusion. We value disagreement and accept the range of viewpoints presented in this discussion, acknowledging the necessity of working together to create a country that is both really sustainable and prosperous. As this policy journey unfolds, it is our collective endeavour to navigate challenges, seek constant improvements, and steer India towards a more environmentally-conscious and prosperous tomorrow.


  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1361920922003947#b0140
  2. https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/opinion/columns/not-the-right-time-for-a-scrappage-policy/article31750444.ece
  3. https://www.autocarindia.com/industry/vehicle-scrappage-policy-intended-benefits-vs-possible-reality-420282
  4. https://lawfoyer.in/mc-mehta-vs-union-of-india/
  5. https://www.isrgrajan.com/vehicle-scrappage-policy-of-2021-all-the-pros-and-cons-you-need-to-know.html
  6. https://gomechanic.in/blog/vehicle-scrappage-policy-potential-problems-india-may-face/
  7. https://www.nsws.gov.in/portal/scheme/scrappagepolicy
  8. https://www.policybazaar.com/motor-insurance/car-insurance/articles/vehicle-scrappage-policy-in-india/
  9. https://morth.nic.in/vehicle-scraping-policy-overview

[1] 1991 SCR (1) 866; 1991 SCC (2) 353

[2] (1996) 9 SCC 337

[3] (2012) 3 SCC 55

[4] (2016) 4 SCC 516

[5] (2020) SCC Online SC 62

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