Vehicle owners in Delhi-NCR will have to mandatorily furnish a valid pollution-under-control (PuC) certificate to renew their annual insurance papers, the Supreme Court ruled on Thursday.

A bench of justices MB Lokur and Deepak Gupta pronounced this order while hearing a case pertaining to rising air-pollution levels in the national capital.

Though this was one of the suggestions given by the court-appointed Environment Pollution [Prevention and Control] Authority (EPCA), the Centre opposed it. The Union ministry of transport had submitted in its response that the two requirements cannot be merged because while insurance-renewal is an annual feature, PuC checks are required to be carried out at short intervals.

Countering the argument, advocate Aparajita Singh – who is assisting the court on the EPCA’s behalf – said periodicity of the PuC and insurance papers should not be an obstacle. She said the vehicle owner should either present their last four or two PuC certificates while applying for insurance renewal.

In a directive aimed at enhancing the efficiency of PuC centres, the Supreme Court directed the government to monitor them on a regular basis. It also asked the authorities to issue specifications for the kind of equipment required to be installed at PuC centres, so regulatory violations can be curbed.

Solicitor general Ranjit Kumar informed the bench that the government was also exploring the possibility of alerting vehicle owners once their PuC documentation expires. “We will develop a system under which a message will be sent to the owner, reminding him or her to apply for the PuC certificate upon its expiry. This will let vehicle owners know that they are under supervision,” he said.

The Supreme Court has issued several directives, including the imposition of 1% cess on new diesel vehicles with an engine capacity of 2000cc or above, to cut down on pollution levels.