Court Tells Government to Consider Including Hydrogen Fuel Cells Under FAME-II Program

The court was hearing public interest litigation filed to proliferate hydrogen fuel through FAME-II


The Delhi High Court has directed the Government of India to consider including hydrogen fuel cell-based electric vehicles (EVs) and hydrogen refueling stations under the ambit of the Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Electric Vehicles (FAME-II) program.

The bench was hearing public interest litigation (PIL) filed in March this year by advocate Ashwini Kumar to bring the hydrogen fuel-based vehicles and infrastructure under FAME-II.

The FAME II program aims to encourage domestic manufacturing and create a market for EVs in the country and reduce the dependence on internal combustion engine vehicles and foster alternative fuels’ growth.

The government launched the FAME program to push for early adoption and market creation for both hybrids and EVs. Later, the central government approved a subsidy of ₹55 billion (~$756.3 million) to be disbursed under the FAME program’s second phase. In March 2019, the Union Cabinet approved the proposal to implement the second phase of the program to promote electric mobility in the country.

In his petition, Kumar had also requested the court to direct the government to allocate a part of the unutilized amount under the FAME II program to promote hydrogen fuel cell-based vehicles and develop the required infrastructure.

The court, in its order, has stated that it lacks the expertise to frame a policy in the field concerned. However, noting that the bench is not relinquishing its duty of scrutinizing whether the policy is in keeping with Article 14 of the Indian Constitution. Article 14 of the Constitution reads “The State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India.”

The court said, “While exercising the power of judicial review, it must be kept in mind that court cannot direct, advise or sermonize the executive in matters of policy framing, which is purely the domain of the executive under the doctrine of separation of powers.”

The court, however, assured, that it will direct the central government in treating the particular writ petition as a representation and decide on the matter per the law, relevant rules, regulations, and government policies applicable to the case.

Meanwhile, the Indian Railways Organization for Alternate Fuels (IROAF) has invited bids to develop a hydrogen fuel cell-based hybrid power train for retrofitting the 700 HP diesel-hydraulic locomotives running on the Kalka-Shimla narrow gauge section in Himachal Pradesh.

Across the border, the finance ministry of the People’s Republic of China had issued a notice about launching demonstration applications of fuel cell vehicles. The notice about new policies to support hydrogen fuel cell vehicles focuses on improving the country’s supply chain and technology.

Since 2009, China’s central government has been supporting the development of fuel cell vehicles by giving purchase subsidies to consumers. As of July 2020, China has promoted more than 7,200 fuel cell vehicles and built about 80 hydrogen refueling stations, according to China’s National Energy Administration.

While stakeholders are pushing for e-mobility and related segments, last month the Society of Manufacturers of Electric Vehicles noted that EV sales dipped 20% year-on-year in the financial year 2020-21.