The Transport Department has clarified that the Government is in the process of framing a policy with regard to registration and plying of vehicles older than 15 years in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, which will be notified before the ‘extension of validity period’ granted in view of Covid-19 pandemic expires.
Meanwhile, the Administrative Department had already issued directions to all the concerned for ensuring strict implementation of extended validity of the documents, related to fitness, permit (all types), Learner’s License, Driving License, Registration or any concerned document whose extension of validity could not be granted due to lockdown and which had expired from 01.02.2020, till 30.09.2020 as ordered by the Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways in view of COVID-19 Pandemic.
The department stated that in compliance to an order passed by the High Court in OWP (PIL) number 458/2003 and 1280/2004, Government vide its order number 20-TR of 2007 dated 20.03.2007 ordered for putting a complete ban on plying of 25 years old commercial/passenger vehicles on roads in the UT of J&K on attaining the age of 25 years w.e.f 01.04.2007 and the fitness test of passenger/commercial vehicles aged between 15 to 25 years had been made compulsory after every six months.
In terms of the case mentioned above, the High Court vide its order dated 20.03.2017 observed that complete ban imposed on 15-25 years old commercial vehicles in Jammu and Kashmir by the Court has not been implemented in letter and spirit and the PIL is still subjudice in the Court.
In the meantime, the Government of Jammu and Kashmir vide notification number 492 dated 01.08.2019 directed levying of one time token tax @ 9% of the cost of the vehicle during the registration of vehicles. However, the Transport Department was asked to convey necessary clarification regarding charging of Road/Token Tax.
The Transport Department clarified that the Registration of Vehicles involving life extension beyond 15 years, shall take into account directions, if any, of NGT/CPCB/SPCB before authorizing registration of old vehicles in J&K, in respect of non attainment cities i.e. Jammu and Srinagar cities in the UT of J&K, in respect of air pollution. Accordingly, the matter was taken up with the Chairman, JK Pollution Control Board for seeking their views in the matter.
The department further clarifies that the JK Pollution Board has observed that primary objective of banning plying of vehicles of more than 15 years of age is to control and combat air pollution in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, especially in the non attainment cities of Srinagar and Jammu.
Though the fixation of token tax payable after the life span of 15 years is the domain of the Transport Department, yet the Board cannot afford to lose the site of the fact that major portion of air pollution in the J&K in general and the capital cities of Srinagar and Jammu in particular, is on account of movement of vehicles and excessive traffic load which is beyond carrying capacity of road network.
It is estimated that 2/3rd of total air pollution is due to vehicular pollution in the twin cities of J&K.
Therefore, for allowing any vehicle of above 15 years to ply, the token tax should be a discouraging one for further registration of vehicles beyond 15 years to ply. Fitness and roadworthiness of the vehicle for further registration should be the guiding factor. It may be advisable to re-register a vehicle of above 15 years age initially for only one year and thereafter if found fit, it may be extended in piecemeal of six months to the maximum of 18 years and a self contained and explicit mechanism be put in place for stringent checks and balances for registration of vehicles beyond 15 years.