A day after the National Green Tribunal (NGT) imposed an additional tax burden on polluting trucks entering the capital, both the Centre and the Delhi government, during a hearing in the Supreme Court, supported a plea for a crackdown on such trucks.
The central and Delhi governments told the Supreme Court they could impose an additional levy and also mull a ban on the entry of commercial vehicles which do not have to deliver goods in Delhi.
The Delhi government told a bench led by Chief Justice H L Dattu that it is ready to check trucks at 127 entry points to the city, after holding talks with Uttar Pradesh and Haryana governments. “We are ready to put a check at all 127 entry points,” said senior advocate Dushyant Dave, appearing for the Delhi government.
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Representing the Centre, Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar submitted that commercial vehicles which carried no ‘challan’ for delivery of goods in the city should not be allowed to enter. He pointed out that levying additional cess may not be enough to prevent the entry of such trucks.
The bench, however, took note of the order passed by the NGT, putting additional tax burden on polluting trucks, and wondered if it still needs to adjudicate this issue.
It finally conceded to a joint request by senior advocate Harish Salve, who has been appointed as amicus curiae in a PIL related to the rising pollution in Delhi, and counsel for city and central governments, who pressed for the apex court to examine this issue.
“The Supreme Court should pass orders as somebody may go to a high court and get a stay on the order of the NGT after raising issues of jurisdiction of the green tribunal. It has become an everyday problem,” said Salve.
The CJI replied that he has also asked for a copy of the NGT order. “We have the same concerns. Let me have a look at the copy of the tribunal’s order,” said Justice Dattu.
Expressing its concerns over the situation, the bench said it will take up the matter again on Friday. Meanwhile, senior advocate Mahalakshmi Pavani, appearing for the SC Women Lawyers’ Association, said the NGT had passed the order on a plea filed by the body. She pressed for making western and eastern corridors functional to avoid vehicular pollution in the city.
Hearing a separate PIL against the use of firecrackers — filed by three infants through their parents — the bench issued notices to the Centre and the Delhi government and pollution control boards.
In the plea, three toddlers, aged between 3 to 14 months, had urged the apex court to completely ban the use of firecrackers during festivals and other occasions in Delhi.
“We do not want all children to become ninjas,” said senior advocate Kapil Sibal, who is representing the petitioners, referring to the CJI’s reference to his grandson looking like a ninja by wearing a mask to avoid high levels of pollution in Delhi.
The PIL will be heard next on October 16.