The Enforcement Directorate is probing commercial four-wheeler manufacturer Ashok Leyland regarding the alleged sales of banned BS-III vehicles in violation of the 2017 Supreme Court order. The agency is also probing former Andhra Pradesh MLA JC Prabhakar Reddy and Gopal Reddy in the case and has attached assets worth ₹22 crore, the agency said today. 

The ED alleged that Jatadhara Industries Pvt Ltd (JIPL) purchased BS-III vehicles from Ashok Leyland, owned by Hinduja Group at a discounted price and "fraudulently" registered the same as BS-IV vehicles by fabricating invoice copies. Jatadhar Industries is controlled by Reddy and his associates. 

As part of the probe, the ED gathered fabricated invoices from Nagaland authorities and original invoices issued by Ashok Leyland from some vehicles sold as scrap. The agency said BS-III vehicles were purchased from Ashok Leyland and shown as BS-IV in records. 

“The crime proceeds generated by owning/plying and/or selling these vehicles have been quantified as ₹38.36 crore,” the agency said. 

In 2015, the central government said that all four-wheeler vehicles must comply with BS-IV norms. According to the Bharat Stage Emission Standards (BS Norms), for one kilometre, only 50 parts per million sulphur content is permitted against 350 parts per million under BS-III norms. 

In 2017, the apex court prohibited sales as well registration of vehicles that do not comply with BS-IV emission beginning April 1 of that year to curb vehicular pollution. The SC order said, “On and from April 1, 2017, such vehicles that are not BS-IV compliant shall not be sold in India by any manufacturer or dealer, that is to say, that such vehicles, whether two-wheeler, three-wheeler, four-wheeler or commercial vehicles will not be sold.” The norms were applicable to automobile manufacturers as well as fuel companies. 

On Wednesday, the shares of Ashok Leyland opened a tad lower at ₹148.50 against the previous closing price of ₹148.60. The stock surged 1.35% to hit an intra-day of ₹150. In the past three months, the stocks of Ashok Leyland have declined by 3.38%. Ashok Leyland shares had hit a 52-week high of ₹169.40 on September 6, and a 52-week low on March 8. 

Brokerage firm ICICI Securities has given a ‘buy’ call for the automobile manufacturer at a target price of ₹180. Ashok Leyland has appointed Sanjay V Jorapur as president and head of human resources. He will succeed Amanpreet Singh, who will move to a senior role in the Hinduja Group. 

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