The Supreme Court Friday declined to stay the execution of a bailable warrant issued against the chief of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), after he did not show up to explain steps taken for preventing death of workers due to silicosis — a lung disease caused by inhalation of dust containing silica.
“We cannot stay the order passed by the regular bench. You approach the regular bench,” said a a vacation bench of Justices Abhay M Sapre and Ashok Bhushan.
The counsel, appearing for the CPCB chairperson, argued that June 30 has been fixed as the next date in the matter and hence the execution of the coercive process may be stayed in the meantime.
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But the vacation bench refused to interfere with the order issued on May 13 by a bench headed by Justice Kurian Jospeh. “We initially thought you have come to us against an order of the tribunal. How can we modify the order passed by another bench? You have to comply with the order now,” it said.
The court then said that the application moved by the CPCB chairman would now be heard by the regular bench.
Issuing the bailable warrant, the bench led by Justice Joseph had expressed concern over the negligent attitude of the CPCB in addressing the issue of this occupational health hazard although hundreds of people, mostly tribals from Madhya Pradesh, have died due to silicosis while working in Gujarat.
In February, the court had asked the CPCB to apprise it of steps taken to prevent the disease and to provide workers a dignified and safe working environment. It had also sought CPCB’s response to a detailed report filed in the court on causes of the disease and the safeguards. Since no response was put forth by the CPCB, the bench asked its chairman to appear before the court.