Can cell phone radiations be termed as pollutants, asks Supreme Court

  • Bhadra Sinha, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Mar 19, 2016 00:25 IST
The Supreme Court asked if a scientific study supports the request to stop installation of mobile towers in a residential colony. (HT file photo)

The Supreme Court wants to know whether electromagnetic radiation emanated from cell phone towers is harmful for health and could be termed as “pollutants” under the Environment Protection Act.

A bench headed by Chief Justice TS Thakur on Friday asked a group of Vasant Kunj residents to place before it any scientific study in support of their petition that wants a direction to stop installation of mobile towers in the colony.

The residents moved SC after the National Green Tribunal (NGT) held it had no jurisdiction to hear the case because the environment law does not count radiation as a pollutant.

“Which forum hears the matter is of no concern? The point is whether these radiations harm the health of humans and animals,” the bench said when counsel for the mobile companies opposed the petition. The CJI hinted that his bench may take up the issue if there is study to substantiate the residents’ worry.

The telecom companies were also told to disclose the standards followed internationally. “Why don’t we get to see these towers in foreign countries such as London?” the bench asked senior advocate LN Rao, representing the mobile operators. Rao denied existence of any study to prove that the radiations generated were harmful to health.

But, the CJI referred to a book written by Kerala High Court’s former chief justice JL Gupta who recently died of cancer and said: “He said the reason why he suffered from the disease was because he spent a lot of time on his mobile phone and also did conferences with his client. But, is there anything to substantiate it scientifically.”

The court adjourned the hearing for two weeks.

The green tribunal had in December last refused to entertain the petition of Vasant Kunj residents who have complained that the installation of cellular towers in the residential park was in breach of the ministry of environment’s office order, Delhi government and telecom department’s advisory guidelines.

In its challenge to the tribunal’s decision, the residents said the electromagnetic radiation could be termed as pollutants because it is injurious to health of not only human beings but also the environment itself. They referred to the inter-ministerial committee report to support the petition.

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