Agricultural scientist MS Swaminathan has turned down the high court's offer of a berth in an expert committee to check pesticide levels in fruits and vegetables sold in Delhi's markets.
The court's offer to Swaminathan on March 27, 2012, had come after a survey found that 35 types of vegetables and fruits sold in various wholesale and retail markets in the city contained pesticides beyond permissible limits.
The court mooted a committee in May 10, 2011, after some NGOs submitted media reports, including one in this newspaper, that vegetables and fruits sold in the city's markets contain poisons capable of causing cancer and harming the nervous system and liver.
The fresh produce sold in the Capital contained four banned pesticides and insecticides, the NGOs said.
The court had ordered surprise checks on traders contaminating their produce for profit.
Additional solicitor-general representing the Centre, AS Chandhiok, told a bench headed by Justice SK Kaul on Monday that "scientist Swaminathan informed that his hands were full and he was stuck in too many assignments at this present juncture".
The court, which will next hear the matter on May 1, felt the need for an "outside expert member" after the agriculture ministry lawyer said a six-member committee was constituted for framing a policy to detect residues of pesticides in vegetables and fruits.