Chief Justice of India T S Thakur on Sunday supported the Delhi government’s decision to allow odd and even number cars to ply on alternate days from January 1 in a bid to curb rising air pollution, adding, “I think this is the least we (judges) can do if it can actually help the environment.”
Any step taken for reining in the spurt in air pollution has to be appreciated and people should be receptive to such ideas, the CJI said while talking to mediapersons at home, adding “All is not well with Delhi”. “We cannot say today whether any particular idea will work or not but we should definitely be open to new ideas if they are aimed at controlling pollution. We can try them and see how they produce results,” he said.
Supreme Court judges, said Justice Thakur, should be open to the idea of car pooling. “It can be a symbol of concern for environment that we have as judges. This may leave an impact on other people that if judges can do it, we can also do so. Personally speaking, I can walk down or even take a bus to work. I won’t mind it at all… I have Justice A K Sikri residing very close to my house. I can take a lift in his car to the court and he can come with me the next day if our vehicle numbers are odd and even,” he said.
The CJI’s statement is significant as the Supreme Court has driven most of the environmental reforms in the national capital. Right from ordering conversion of public transport vehicles to CNG in 2001 to last month’s order to impose compensatory environment charges on commercial vehicles entering Delhi, it has been the top court that has pushed these reforms.
A major policy initiative, the Delhi government’s decision on even-odd vehicles is expected to face legal challenge.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal was quick to thank Justice Thakur for his support. “(His) support to odd-even formula is welcome and a huge encouragement,” Kejriwal tweeted. “Supreme Court judges pooling cars would inspire millions to follow. Thank you My Lords,” he said.
Expressing deep concern over environmental issues, Justice Thakur said on Sunday, “It is evident that the situation in Delhi is very bad. We all are worried and something has to be done. All is not well and we should find ways to improve it.”
He pointed out that a recent air sample taken inside the CJI’s courtroom had produced shocking results. “The presence of particulate matter (PM) inside the courtroom was alarming. We are now getting a more elaborate study done by the Central Pollution Control Board. Steps will have to be taken. There also has to be education on the subject,” said the CJI.