The Maharashtra government on Thursday filed an application before the Bombay High Court’s Chief Justice seeking that all matters pertaining to noise pollution rules be transferred to another bench, while alleging that one of the judges hearing the matter is “biased” against the state government. “One of the judges is harbouring a serious bias against the state government,” the government alleged in its application.
When the state’s Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbakoni informed a division bench of Justices A S Oka and Riyaz Chagla of the application, the bench expressed shock and said it does not intend to recuse itself from hearing the matter. “We are really shocked with the contents of the application. There is specific allegation against me that I am biased against the state government. But we won’t get provoked by such allegations,” Justice Oka said.
“I will not recuse myself from hearing the petitions just because the government is levelling allegations against me,” he said.
The bench has now directed the government to approach the Chief Justice and obtain an order on its application immediately. “We will post these petitions this afternoon as the petitioners have sought interim relief by way of stay on the amendment to the Noise Pollution Rules,” the court said.
The government had earlier this week informed the court that pursuant to an amendment to the Noise Pollution Rules from August 10 this year, no silence zones exist in the state as on date. The government will now carry out a fresh exercise to identify areas which will be declared as silence zones, it had said.
As per the amendment, any area/zone will have to be declared or notified by the state government as a silence zone. Kumbakoni had earlier told the court that by virtue of this amendment, an order passed by the high court in August 2016 declaring any area not less than 100 meters of hospitals, educational institutions and courts are silence zones, cannot be operated.
The bench on Wednesday had refused to accept the government’s contention and said until the government files an application seeking review of the 2016 order, the directions passed therein will continue to operate. “We had yesterday voiced our prima facie opinion to the state government and today the government has acted like an ordinary litigant and levelled allegations against me,” Justice Oka said today.
The court noted that the government has failed to realise and understand the consequences of its decision to file such an application. The bench has been hearing a bunch of petitions seeking strict implementation of the Noise Pollution Rules.