The Supreme Court on Friday asked the Centre to ensure that the smog in the national capital is removed at the earliest as it adjourned two petitions seeking urgent measures on air pollution in Delhi for November 16.
A three-judge bench headed by CJI SA Bobde said, “We are adjourning the matter after reopening (following week long Diwali break). Only thing is, till then you (Centre) ensure there is no smog in the city.” The observation came while the bench was hearing PILs filed by Aditya Dubey and an earlier pending matter on Delhi pollution in MC Mehta case.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta informed the court that the Commissio on Air Quality had been constituted, members appointed and it will begin functioning from today on a war footing.
Senior advocate Vikas Singh informed the court that Delhi is facing a “public health emergency” and the situation will only worsen in the coming days when the court is closed. He sought urgent action but the bench replied, “We are a court of law. We are not abdicating our responsibility. This is a problem to be dealt with by the executive. They have the money, power, expertise and resources to deal with the problem.”
Singh pointed out that the new commission constituted by Centre did not have representation of health ministry which is crucial to tackle health problems associated with air pollution.
The bench noted that courts had limitations but it was for the Centre to take action. “There are many committees and commissions working. We have limitations on functionalities.”
Singh said that by the time court reopens, the health emergency may get over. The bench remarked, “We hope the Solicitor General understands it. We don’t want to advise you as they (commission) are experts.”
The commission was constituted by an Ordinance issued on October 28 after the court monitoring the air pollution matters had sought urgent action. Earlier in October, the bench had constituted a one-man committee headed by former SC judge Madan B Lokur to conduct physical surveillance on occurrence of stubble burning in farmlands of Punjab, Haryana and UP. The court allowed the Lokur committee to inspect the ground situation and directed all Chief Secretaries of Delhi, Punjab, Haryana and UP to cooperate with him.