This document details the available orders, notifications and directions, issued by the Central, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu governments (being the two hubs for automotive manufacturing) pertaining to the manufacturing and automobile sectors during the COVID-19 pandemic.
A. CENTRAL GOVERNMENT
1. How did the Central Government enforce a lockdown?
The Ministry of Home Affairs (“MHA”) issued this guideline invoking a lockdown in the country until 14 April 2020. Exceptions to the lockdown have been provided in the guidelines for essential services and other listed establishments.
2 .How has the Central Government maintained essential services during the lockdown?
In addition to the MHA Guidelines, Piyush Goyal, Minister of Railways and Commerce & Industry, held a video conference with various logistics companies to hear concerns and seek recommendations. Thereafter, this letter issued by the Cabinet Secretary permitted the transportation of essential and non-essential goods within the country.
3. Is an automobile manufacturing facility an essential service?
From the MHA guidelines, available here, Para 5b states that industrial establishments ‘which require a continuous process’ can be exempted from the lockdown if they avail the required permission from the State Government. Therefore, if the manufacturing process, or if a part of the manufacturing process is continuous, then availing an exemption is possible.
4. What relief has been offered to the automobile sector?
The Supreme Court of India issued this order against an interim application by the Federation of Automobile Dealers Association (“FADA”), highlighting that the nationwide lockdown has left 1,09,250 vehicles sold but unregistered, and 7,27,000 vehicles unsold with dealers. The Court said that manufacturers and dealers had 2 years window to accommodate the stricter BS6 emission and engine norms, and that environment concerns are not to be taken lightly. Based on the above, the Court allowed the sale of 10% of the existing stock within 10 days of the end of the lockdown in all parts of the country except Delhi. Additionally, the Court stated that previously sold vehicles will be registered by 30 April 2020. Further, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (“MoRTH”) issued this letter under which the validity of all documents expiring after 01 February 2020 under the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 and Central Motor Vehicle Rules, 1989 has been extended until 30 June 2020.
5. How is the Central Government assisting internal and external trade?
The Department of Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (“DPIIT”) had created a control room to monitor and assist ground level transportation of goods and resources. The control room is available on phone [(+91) 11 2306 2487] and email. Further, the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (“DGFT”) has created a helpdesk to assist in import and export, and can be contacted via phone [1800 111 550], email or it’s website. Under this office memorandum, all immigration check posts in airports, seaports, land ports, rail ports and river ports had been closed, however vehicles carrying goods for trade / essential commodities are exempted along with their crew, subject to screening. Lastly, the Ministry of Civil Aviation posted this press release to launch ‘Lifeline Udan’ their cargo operations during the lockdown and the Indian Railways issued this letter to classify 22 March 2020 to 14 April 2020 as ‘force majeure’ and during this period no demurrage, wharfage, stacking, stabling, detention and ground usage charge shall be leviable.
6. What are some other miscellaneous Central Government issues on Covid-19 and the automobile sector?
Reportedly, the Government, has identified the shortage of ventilators in the country and thus removed the restrictions on its manufacturing processes and through the Ministry of Heavy Industries, it has requested Tata Motors Ltd, Mahindra and Mahindra Ltd, Hyundai Motor India Ltd, Honda Cars India Ltd and Maruti Suzuki India Ltd, to explore the possibility of making ventilators at their plants. Tata and Mahindra have supposedly started conversations with ventilator manufacturers. Also reported, Indian companies which have supply chains from China have noted a sigh of relief as factories in China, though in limited capacity, have slowly resumed productions.
1. What measures have been taken by the Maharashtra Government to invoke and maintain the state-wide lockdown?
On 13 March, the Public Health Department issued this notification declaring a ‘public health emergency’. Subsequently, the Government of Maharashtra, in compliance with MHA’s lockdown order has issued this notification to extend the lockdown order in the state until 14 April 2020.
2. What has the State Government established to maintain the supply of essential services?
The aforementioned notification regulates essential and exempted services in Maharashtra. Chief Minister, Uddhav Thackeray also posted this tweet, reassuring citizens that shops selling essential commodities, groceries and medicines would remain open 24×7.
3. Is automobile manufacturing an essential service in Maharashtra?
Similar to the position of the Central Government, manufacturers need to acquire permission from the District Magistrate who will consult the CEO of Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation to determine if the production unit involves a continuous process which requires exemption.
4. How has the Maharashtra Government assisted trade within the state?
The Maharashtra Government sealed the borders of the state through the lockdown notifications. No passenger movement, except for ‘essential, important and perishable commodities’, is allowed. Supply chains of essential commodities are permitted to transport within the state, which has now extended to non-essential commodities via the Central Government letter of the Cabinet Secretary.
C. TAMIL NADU
1. What measures have been taken by the Tamil Nadu Government to invoke and maintain the state-wide lockdown?
The state on 16 March 2020 published this notification with comprehensive travel restrictions in the state. Additionally the TN Police posted this press release to invoked Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure in the state. Those requiring urgent movement in the state have been instructed to contact (75300 01100) or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The state has also published this list of co-ordination teams to assist different stakeholders.
2. What has the state government done to maintain the supply of essential services?
The Government has posted this notification through which time restrictions, i.e. hours to remain open, have been removed for hotels and grocery shops. Additionally for essential supplies at the state and district level, concerned parties can call [(044) 2567 4482] or email email@example.com.
3. Is automobile manufacturing an essential service in Tamil Nadu?
Based on Para 5b of the MHA notification, automobile manufacturing could be an essential service based on the approval availed by the concerned state authority.
4. What was the relief offered by the Tamil Nadu Government for industries/automobile manufacturers?
The government has reportedly announced the Covid Relief and Development Scheme under which close to 2,000 micro, small and medium enterprises who have availed loans will receive concessions. No announcements have been made towards larger businesses.
5. How has the Tamil Nadu Government assisted Trade within the state?
The ‘state coordination for essential manufacturing and intra state / inter-state movement’ team can be contacted via phone on [(044) 25671383] or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Authored by Vishwanathan Subramaniam, Intern with inputs from Vijayant Singh, Associate at Ikigai Law. Reach out to us at email@example.com.