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Delhi pollution: Supreme Court expresses dismay at media reports over school closure, says Court can’t hold pressers to clarify like political parties

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The Supreme Court on Friday expressed its disappointment at the reports carried in certain segments of the press, depicting the Apex Court as a villain for its role in the closure of schools on account of the air pollution in Delhi.

“One thing what we observed is, whether intentional or unintentional, some sections of media portray us that we are the villains who want to close down the schools. On your own, you (Delhi government) opened the schools. But see today’s newspapers,”

-observed the Court.

A Division Bench of Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana and Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and Surya Kant was hearing a petition of Aditya Dubey, a 17-year-old student from Delhi, who had approached the Apex Court aggrieved by the deteriorating air quality in Delhi & NCR.

On Thursday, Rajesh Kumar, Director, Commission for Air quality had filed an affidavit stating:

Constitution of Enforcement Task Force and empowering the Enforcement Task Force to exercise powers of taking punitive and preventive measures against non-compliant/defaulting persons/ entities.

> Increase in the number of flying squads to 40 within 24 hours, which have been operational since December 2 conducting surprise checks.

> Industrial Operations in NCR not running on PNG or cleaner  gases would be allowed to function 8 hours a day on weekdays and have been barred from functioning on Saturday and Sunday.

> Out of 11 thermal power plants within 300 km of Delhi, only 5 have been permitted to be operational till at least December 15. 

Also Read: International Ambedkar Conclave 2021: President Kovind says pressing need to make deprived sections aware of their rights

> All Schools and Colleges in NCR shall remained closed till further orders, allowing only virtual classes, except for purpose of conducting examinations and lab practical etc.

> Entry of Trucks in Delhi shall not be permitted except for CNG, Electric Trucks and Trucks carrying essential commodities.

On reporting by certain sections of media, Senior Advocate Dr. Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing on behalf of Delhi government, hinting at coverage by The Indian Express stated:

“That is my complaint too. You must put the blame where it is. Today, one newspaper has conveyed in particular that the hearing was an aggressive combat and Court started to take up the administrative duty.”

“You can condemn all of this but where do we go? Where have we said we will take up administrative role?…………. We cannot interfere with freedom of speech and expression and you are from a political party and can hold a press conference, but we cannot do so,” replied CJI Ramana.

“On judicial infrastructure issue, we suggested if we can have a national body so that something constructive can be done…but what we say in court is twisted and it was stated that High Courts have to go with begging bowls.. When did we say that?”

-added Justice Chandrachud

Also Read: Delhi air pollution: Centre informs Supreme Court of constitution of 5-member task force to crack down on polluters

At this point, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, to the amusement of the bench and the arguing advocates, stated: “Mark Twain had said if you don’t read newspapers, you are uninformed, and if you read them, then you are ill-informed.”

Senior Advocate Vikas Singh for the petitioner questioned the government on not bring solar power plants and charging points for e-vehicles in Delhi. Senior Advocate Ranjit Kumar appearing for the State of Uttar Pradesh expressed his concern for industries such as milk and sugar.

In another lighter moment, Kumar said sugarcane mills should be kept open as procurement is on and said winds from Uttar Pradesh is downhill and the air flow into Delhi was influenced by headwinds from Pakistan. To this, CJI Ramana wanted to know if the Court should get industrial units in Pakistan shut.

The Court has kept the matter open and listed the matter for further hearing on December 10.

20994_2020_31_301_31928_Order_03-Dec-2021

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