THE Supreme Court, on October 4, refused to give its ruling on the Environment Protection (Prevention and Control) Authority's (epca) recommendation to ban the registration of private diesel vehicles in the National Capital Region. The three judge bench, comprising Chief Justice A S Anand, Justice B N Kirpal and Justice V N Khare, said that it would give its response on November 24.
One of the key recommendations of the fifth progress report of the advisory committee of the epca was banning the registration of private diesel vehicles and environmentalists were hoping for a decision favouring a ban during this session. Although the report itself was not considered, as it was in the process of being circulated among the concerned parties, additional solicitor general Kirit N Raval was asked to respond to the suggestions of the EPCA.
Harish Salve, the amicus curiae (appointed to handle the public interest case by the court) drew the attention of the court to a picture of the lung of a resident of Delhi to emphasise the growing particulate load pollution in the capital. This picture stood in stark contrast to another picture of a clean lung of a resident of Himachal Pradesh. Attempts were made to prove that the black patches on the lung could have been the result of smoking, and not particulates. But Justice Anand brushed this aside with his caustic comment, "The passive smoker suffers most as he does not even know what is happening, and his interest should be protected'.
Raval then tried to justify that retrofitting old buses with cng kits was not economically viable, but this argument was immediately rejected by Justice Anand who said: "We will not make any ruling that will bring back the condition of pollution prior to the April 29 order.'
Two other issues came up for discussion