The Supreme Court on Monday refused to interfere with an order by the country’s green regulator that banned all vehicles older than 15 years from Delhi’s streets, boosting efforts to curb dangerous levels of air pollution in the Capital.
A bench headed by Chief Justice HL Dattu dismissed an appeal that challenged the National Green Tribunal’s jurisdiction to deliver such orders, saying the NGT ruling contained nothing new and only reiterated what courts had been saying for years.
“They (NGT) are doing something good for the people. Let us assist them and not discourage. This court and several other high courts have passed such orders.
But, still there is no action. This is an order for the people,” the bench told petitioners Vishaal Shripati Jogband, who had said any action against vehicles should be under the Motor Vehicles Act.
Delhi hit the headlines last year after a string of reports identified it as the most polluted city in the world.
Shortly afterwards, the NGT last November ordered around 2.9 million vehicles older than 15 years off the roads, in a bid to check vehicular emission that accounts for over 70% of air pollution.
Over four months after the ruling, however, the transport department has managed to act against only a handful of such vehicles, owing to a manpower crunch as pollution in the city continues to choke its 18 million residents.
A recent National green Tribunal order banning all diesel vehicles older than 10 years has not been challenged yet.
Jogband had contended the NGT order, which came on a public interest litigation, should be struck down as the power to entertain a PIL was vested only with the SC or high courts.
He argued the power to order cancellation of fitness certificates of vehicles was with the prescribed authority, as defined in the motor vehicle law. Jogband also referred to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to contradict the NGT’s finding of vehicular emissions being the cause of acute air pollution.
“The CPCB reports say 75% of the Capital has air pollution/quality below standard levels. As such, there was no compelling reasons for the tribunal to pass such an order on the basis of a national newspaper report, which was relied upon by the tribunal while dealing with a PIL,” the petition had said.