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NGT issues notice to Centre and Maruti on a plea seeking refund of incentives given to mild hybrid vehicles of Maruti Suzuki India Ltd

The National Green Tribunal headed by Justice Jawad Rahim issued notices to the Ministry of Heavy Industries, Ministry of Environment and Forests, International Centre for Automotive Technology and Maruti Suzuki India Limited against a plea filed by a man seeking refund of incentives given to mild hybrid vehicles of Maruti Suzuki India (MSI) Ltd under the FAME India scheme.

The petition had been filed by by lawyer Ashwini Kumar through his advocate Sumeer Sodhi, alleging that the vehicles manufactured by Maruti claiming to be mild hybrid vehicles were “in fact not anywhere close to being such hybrid vehicles and the subsidies received were totally wrong, mala fide and illegal”. The petitioner claimed that the Maruti Suzuki Ciaz SHVS and Ertiga SHVS models were not a hybrid or a mild hybrid vehicle and the only change in the engine was an integration of the starter motor and the generator motor termed as Integrated Starter Generator motor. Therefore the carmaker should deposit back the Rs 95 crore subsidy along with interest which it received during sale of its vehicles ‘Ciaz and Ertiga’ with the Ministry of Heavy Industries, the plea stated.

According to report by NDTV, Till February 15th 2017, the government had disbursed an amount of nearly Rs 150 crore to various companies under the FAME India scheme and out of this Maruti Suzuki India Ltd alone received Rs 95.61 crore as subsidy.

However the petitioner (applicant) filed an RTI application seeking information of the certification of the vehicles produced by Maruti categorised as ‘Mild Hybrid Vehicles.’ Meanwhile the government excluded the ‘mild hybrid’ technology from all subsidies and benefits extended under the FAME-India scheme.

The petitioner therefore in their plea alleged that as soon as the government realised that the information asked for by the applicant would disclose the ex-facie illegal grant of subsidy, the government chose to withdraw the subsidy and that it was the only ‘plausible explanation‘ for the sudden withdrawal of subsidy to the cars manufactured by Maruti.

Thus the petitioner requested the Tribunal to pass an order regarding utilization of the subsidy fund in an effective manner for prevention of pollution and implementation of environmental laws. The Tribunal has sought responses from the Centre and the Carmaker before February 21st 2017.

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