Taxing a person's second car as Singapore does, a bench of Justices H L Dattu and M Y Eqbal said, might not be feasible in Indian political and constitutional set up.
"In Singapore, there's a heavy tax on the second car, but in a democratic setup like India, people have a right to buy a car for comfort. Can we be saying that people cannot be allowed to have a second or a third car in this country or can we say anything about the tax? We don't think so," the bench told Sanjay Kulshrestra, who had, in a petition, tried to convince it that the right to own a vehicle had was now a subject matter of judicial intervention since it hampered other citizens' right to health and clean air.
If an article of comfort became a health hazard for others, Kulshrestra had argued, courts could interfere to curb it. He had questioned the government's will to control the unchecked increase in the number of vehicles, which has also led to an alarming increase in road accidents and traffic congestion, apart from pollution.
"Urban air pollution is costing around five per cent of the GDP and around 5,27,700 people are dying because of air pollution," the petition claimed and sought guidelines to decongest roads by limiting the number of personal vehicles. "Pedestrians are losing their rights to clean and safe roads as there has been a huge increase in traffic." There were some 14.5 crore motorised vehicles on roads in March 2011," the petition said. Kulshrestra's arguments, however, did not impress the bench.
The government, meanwhile, admitted that it had not yet decided to fix the age limit for vehicles and that it examined adherence to prescribed norms only at the time of renewal of vehicles' registration. The government, however, said that it was making all efforts to expand the national highways network, which comprises just about 1.7 per cent of India's road network but carries about 40 per cent of its traffic.