SC wants Nitin Gadkari to share his `innovative ideas' on clean transport
19 February 2020
The Supreme Court has requested union minister of road transport, highways and shipping, Nitin Gadkari, to share his “innovative ideas” on creating a clean and pollution-free transportation network in the country, especially the national capital and major cities of the country.
The court, however, sought to clarify that it was only a request for the union transport minister’s inputs for decision making by the court and should not be seen as a summons.
"The minister has innovative ideas. We are requesting him to come to court and assist us because he is in a position to take decisions," Chief Justice SA Bobde, who heads the bench, said.
The Supreme Court wanted to interact with the transport minister Nitin Gadkari on the proposal for gradual conversion of all public transport and government vehicles into electric vehicles (EVs) to curb air pollution.
"Can the minister come to Supreme Court and explain proposal to introduce non-polluting vehicles run on electricity/hydrogen," the bench asked the government counsel.
The government lawyer pointed out that this may be "seen in a political way", the Chief Justice clarified: "Don't think we are summoning him. It is a request. We want someone in authority to decide. Please find out if he can come."
The apex court, however, did not seek physical presence of the minister after additional solicitor general A N S Nadkarni raised objection.
TheSupreme Court was hearing a petition on the implementation of government policy on electric vehicles. Lawyer Prashant Bhushan, who was representing the petitioner, suggested that the government can charge fee from petrol and diesel cars and give subsidy to electric vehicles.
The court was of the opinion that while bursting of firecrackers and stubble-burning were seasonal issues, automobiles were the major contributors to air pollution. "Pollution from crackers and stubble burning is seasonal and for a short period. But (motor) vehicles are a major concern. We want to consider the issue holistically," Chief Justice Bobde said.
"We find that the issue of use of electric vehicles is connected to several other issues which are pending before the court. All of these issues, which pertain to the source of power of vehicles - public and private - eventually have a great impact on the environment. This is not just in Delhi-NCR, but the entire country," the court order read.
"We consider it appropriate that all the issues be considered simultaneously and with the assistance of an authority empowered to take decisions," it added.
The Supreme Court has asked the central government to file an affidavit within four weeks.