In a quandary over the ban on the registration of diesel SUVs and high-end vehicles with engine capacity of over 2,000 cc in the national capital until March 31, the Special Protection Group wants an exception to enable it to protect VIPs.
The SPG moved the Supreme Court today with a request to exempt it from the prohibition because its fleet of vehicles to protect present and former Prime Ministers and their immediate family members consists of sedans and SUVs with engine capacity of 4,000 cc and more.
In its application submitted through its Assistant Inspector General, the SPG has said that given its duty to provide “effective security” to VIPs, the ban will have a “direct bearing on the protection standards”.
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“It is submitted that for effective protection, vehicles are one of the most important components and in SPG, various types of vehicles are used viz armoured, non-armoured, escort, technical, which are both of sedan and SUV types,” added the plea which will be taken up on Wednesday by a bench led by Chief Justice T S Thakur. A protective motorcade, the SPG added, has heavy vehicles due to weight of armoured material and other security features, having engine capacity of more than 4000 cc. Accordingly, an escort vehicle also has to have a comparable engine capacity to keep pace with the main car so that it can provide adequate protection, it said
The SPG complained that the ban has stopped the procurement process for escort vehicles since all these vehicles are of higher engine capacity.
The application stated that no petrol SUV, at present, meets operational standards. “The SPG undertakes voluntarily to migrate to petrol version as and when suitable SUVs in petrol version are available in the Indian market,” it told the court.
The SPG sought a modification of the court order and said that there have been instances in the past when its role regarding proximate security of the VIPs had been duly appreciated by the apex court.
On December 16, the Supreme Court had imposed a ban on the registration of diesel SUVs and high-end vehicles with engine capacity of over 2000 cc in Delhi until March 31, after noting that “because of the higher engine capacity, they (diesel vehicles) are more prone to cause higher levels of pollution.” According to a government affidavit filed last year, diesel-driven vehicles account for over 90 per cent of SUVs in India, 34 per cent of small cars and 70 per cent of large/ medium cars.