The Supreme Court yesterday refused to revisit its order on green tax collection from vehicles entering the capital, saying it would invoke its special powers to save ''Delhi and its people'' from the city's toxic air.
''Day in and day out we read in the newspapers that Delhi tops the list of the most polluted cities in the world. People here dread to go out of their houses,'' said a bench headed by chief justice of India HL Dattu, warning of contempt in case of non-implementation of the order.
The court was hearing an application in which the consortium tasked with the collection of environment compensation charge said it was not in a position to discharge the ''humongous'' additional responsibility and was ready to quit.
SMYR Consortium, the municipal corporation-appointed concessionaire, also collected tax from goods vehicles entering Delhi.
''We were really upset to know that the collection did not start on the date fixed by us. At one point we thought of issuing notice to the toll-tax operator also,'' the chief justice of India told senior advocate Harish Salve, on whose plea the court ordered the green tax.
SMYR Consortium LLP, blamed the apex court for failing to follow the ''absolute minimum requirement of fairness and principles of natural justice''.
Senior advocate Shyam Divan, appearing for the company, challenged the jurisdiction of the apex court to impose the ''humongous'' obligation of collecting the ECC on the toll companies without even giving them a prior opportunity to be heard.
Divan, who argued for over an hour and well into the lunch break, said there is ''no question of contempt at all''.
''This court had no jurisdiction to impose such obligations on me without following the basic tenets of fairness and principles of natural justice by hearing me first.
"Let a fresh tender be called. Let someone else do this. I don't want this headache. I don't want this Damocles sword hanging over my head through the entire period of my contract,'' Divan argued.