Amid rising instances of stubble burning in neighbouring states adding to pollution in the national capital, the Supreme Court Friday appointed Justice (retired) Madan B Lokur to act as a one-man monitoring committee to check the menace.
While appointing Lokur to head the committee, the bench headed by Chief Justice of India S A Bobde, and with Justices A S Bopanna and V Rama Subramaian, clarified that its orders and the setting up of the committee “are not intended to dilute the powers, functions and the authority of any authorities such as EPCA (Environmental Pollution Control Authority), already created”.
The idea behind appointing a committee was to facilitate and coordinate the activities of different authorities, the court said.
“We are only concerned that citizens of Delhi NCR are able to breathe fresh clean air… while the court is shut (for Dussehra holidays). We don’t want anything to happen during these nine days,” the CJI said.
The order came on a petition filed by two students, Aditya Dubey and Aman Banka, who had sought directions from the court to put an end to stubble burning.
The court went ahead with Lokur’s appointment even as the Centre expressed “some reservations” on this.
“There are some reservations with which we do not want to trouble My Lords. I will have to file an application…”, said Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who appeared before the bench, just as it was about to rise.
CJI Bobde, however, remarked that the court had not given Justice Lokur any extraordinary power or jurisdiction.
Urging the court to post the matter for Monday and not pass orders now, the SG said, “we are only requesting to be heard.”
But the CJI said the court had already passed the order.
The court also said different authorities created by the states/Centre shall also be free, to carry on their own activities, without feeling muted by the appointment of the Committee”.
The court asked the Chief Secretaries of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi to assist Justice Lokur “and enable physical surveillance of fields where stubble is likely to be burnt and devise additional means and methods for preventing the burning of stubble”.
The SC-appointed EPCA shall also report to the committee, which will submit a fortnightly report or as and when required, the court said, adding that “it would be fitting, if services of National Cadet Corps, NSS and Bharat Scouts and Guides, wherever available, are deployed for assisting in the monitoring of stubble burning…”
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