The Delhi High Court has asked the Office of the Registrar General of the court to file a report on the air quality and the condition of the air-handling systems on the High Court premises while hearing a plea regarding air pollution in the capital.
The directions to the registrar were issued on a plea filed by senior advocate Meet Malhotra, who had alleged that the air inside the court premises was “highly polluted” as the internal air conditioning system had “no provision for filtration” and there was no cross-circulation.
During a brief hearing on Wednesday, Malhotra told the court of Justice Badar Durrez Ahmed and Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva that the air vents inside the court buildings were “full of soot and tar, which contaminates the air”.
Submitting pictures of soot collected on the grills of the air vents, Malhotra alleged that the health of lawyers, judges and litigants was being adversely affected. This prompted Justice Ahmed to point out that he had also fallen victim to respiratory infection “as soon as the ACs were switched on” with the onset of summer. The judge had to take leave for several days last month due to ill-health.
Malhotra’s application was filed during a hearing on a suo motu PIL taken up by the Delhi High Court earlier this year regarding air pollution in Delhi. Pointing out that the increase in number of diesel vehicles in the city was contributing to pollution, Malhotra argued that the larger concerns of public health were also raised due to the poor air quality inside the court premises.
Apart from the issue of cleanliness of air vents, the lawyer also alleged that carpets inside the court rooms are causing bacterial and fungal infections, as they are not being cleaned properly.
The court has now asked the Registrar to file a report by April 22 on “air quality and the condition of the air-handling units”.
The court has further directed the administration to indicate steps taken for filtering the air inside the court rooms, referring specifically to filters that prevent circulation of “bacterial, fungal and viral infections,” after the lawyer said that diseases were “being released into the air” inside the courts.