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HomeNewsSupreme Court declines to urgently hear PIL on stubble burning

Supreme Court declines to urgently hear PIL on stubble burning

The Supreme Court has refused to urgently hear a public interest litigation on banning stubble burning in states neighbouring Delhi, to contain the air pollution in the national capital region. The plea was mentioned before a bench of Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud and justices Hima Kohli and JB Pardiwala on Thursday. Speaking for the bench, the CJI asked the petitioner, “what is your solution to the Delhi pollution?”

Petitioner Shashank Shekhar Jha sought ban on stubble burning. The solution offered, however, did not impress the CJI. “So, we ban it? So, you think it is going to stop? We enforce it against every farmer in Punjab and Uttar Pradesh? Let us find some genuine solutions. This is not the way,” the CJI said. There are some things that courts can look into and some courts cannot since they are not “judicially amenable”, the CJI said, leaving it to the executive to take administrative measures to contain pollution. He said that the matter would not be taken up immediately.

The PIL filed last Friday had said that the city was choking and the matter warranted urgent adjudication as it had become difficult to even walk on account of the rising air pollution in Delhi. The reason behind heightened AQI levels was stubble burning in Punjab and Haryana, the PIL had contended. “Security must be called” as the AQI level in Delhi has never reached 500 in the past few years. “We cannot walk freely. Stubble burning has increased.” Even those who are fit are not able to reside in Delhi anymore, the PIL said.

Then CJI UU Lalit agreed that the situation warranted intervention, but wondered whether appropriate action could be taken under Article 32 of the Constitution. In response the petitioner argued that the matter pertained to Right to Life under Article 21 of the Constitution. Following this the PIL was listed for hearing on Thursday though the outgoing CJI said that some experts had contended that stubble burning had nothing to do with increased pollution. However, the petitioner said that the increased pollution could only be attributed to stubble burning. The petitioner demanded that the states should be called in to answer for prevailing conditions.

The PIL had sought issuance of fresh guidelines to Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Punjab and Haryana on stubble burning; formation of a panel under a retired SC judge to tackle the issue; direction to states to install smog-towers, plantation drive, affordable public transport and discourage use of private vehicles. The PIL had also sought directions to summon chief secretaries and direct them to take personal responsibility for ensuring no stubble was burnt. It also demands directions to schools, colleges, government and private offices to go online to protect the lives of people.

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