SC maintains NGT ban on firecrackers in Delhi-NCR area with ‘poor’ air quality

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In this overview of court judgments, we examine the remarks and guidelines of constitutional courts regarding the NGT’s ban on firecrackers in cities with poor air quality, the non-application of the reservation OBC in medical schools for 2021-22, the importance of public transport buses for people with disabilities. friendly amenities and smooth functioning of the Tree Authority in Goa.

Supreme Court: upholds the ban on NGT on firecrackers in Delhi-NCR region with “bad” air quality.

Supreme Court upheld National Green Tribunal (NGT) order imposing a complete ban on the sale and use of all firecrackers during the COVID-19 pandemic in the Delhi-NCR region and other cities India where the Air Quality Index (AQI) was poor.

In December 2020, a bench led by the chairman of the NGT, Judge AK Goel, imposed a total ban on the use of firecrackers. In towns / villages where the air quality is “moderate” or lower, only green crackers could be used for a specified period of time for the celebration of any specified festival. The Supreme Court was considering appeals challenging the NGT order.

Submissions made on behalf of an individual retailer argued that firecrackers were not in the top 15 causes of pollution, and if the main problem was repairing the pollution, then all causal factors should be considered, such as stubble burning. He said the fireworks industry had received the small end of the stick and the order from the NGT had left him destitute and wasted his money.

The magistracy of judges AM Khanwilkar and Sanjiv Khanna observed that no one has the right to exercise an activity to the detriment of the health of others. The court dismissed the appeal and upheld NGT’s total ban on the use and sale of firecrackers in the Delhi-NCR area.

The NGT order highlights deaths from COVID-19 attributable to long-term exposure to air pollution. ICMR studies have shown that long-term exposure to air pollution is linked to an increased risk of death from COVID-19. It is further stated that there have been studies in Europe and the United States, where they looked at polluted areas and compared mortality during lockdown and correlation with pollution. Scientists have estimated that about 15% of deaths worldwide from COVID-19 could be attributed to long-term exposure to air pollution. In Europe the proportion was around 19%, in North America it was 17% and in East Asia around 27%. NGT’s order also referred to reports from Mint and Newsclick that highlighted it.

The NGT also issued the following instructions:

  • In order to ensure the availability of air quality data, at least one air quality monitoring station should be installed in each district headquarters at the earliest.
  • Air quality data can be placed on the district administration website and also at important places in cities.
  • District magistrates in each district can take steps to ensure that banned firecrackers are not sold.
  • The district magistrate, upon complaint or otherwise, will recover compensation from those who violate the above instructions.
  • Any victim of pollution, apart from other remedies, can apply to the District Judge for compensation, justifying the individual damage and the person responsible for the damage. If no claim is made within six months of receiving compensation, the amount credited to the “District Environmental Compensation Fund” may be spent on environmental restoration in the district.

Madras HC: The Centre’s attempts not to implement the OBC reservation in medical schools for 2021-2022 are prima facie contempt.

Madras High Court ordered the central government to take immediate action to implement the OBC reservation in MBBS seats under the All India quota, in undergraduate and postgraduate medical and dental colleges of the State.

The case concerns the High Court’s order (dated July 27, 2020) to the central government regarding the framing of laws to provide a reserve to “other backward classes”, “listed castes” and “listed tribes” in the state ceded seats throughout India’s quota of medical seats in Tamil Nadu. The High Court then heard a batch of pleadings filed by several petitioners, including various political parties of Tamil Nadu as well as the government of Tamil Nadu.

The Court had thus ordered the central government to set up a committee in charge of planning the modalities of implementation of this reservation for the courses to be dispensed from the next academic year. He said that such a committee should ensure the participation of central government, state government, Medical Council of India and Dental Council of India. The court also ordered the central government to specify the percentage of such a reservation for CBOs preferably within three months from the date of the order.

The envisaged position of the Union of India was that steps were taken to implement the OBC reserve at “All India Quota” seats in the state from the 2021-22 academic year. However, the High Court observed that the Union government sought to change course and maintain the implementation of the OBC reservation in accordance with the 1993 Suspended State Act until the case “Saloni Kumari” is pending before the Supreme Court is decided.

The High Court held that the Centre’s apparent attempts to postpone such implementation of the OBC reservation constitute a flagrant violation of its earlier order, thus constituting prima facie contempt of court. Accordingly, the Court ordered the Center to indicate the mode and modalities of the implementation of the OBC reservation regarding All India Quota seats for the 2021-2022 academic year within 7 days of the order.

Madras HC: Prevents state government from purchasing public transport buses without amenities suitable for people with disabilities

Madras High Court has issued an order prohibiting the state government from purchasing new buses for public transport, unless these buses are adapted for people with disabilities in accordance with the legal requirements of the Rights Act 2016 people with disabilities and the rights of people with disabilities. Rules for people with disabilities, 2017.

The petitioner highlighted the 2017 rules as well as a notification issued by the Government of India in 2016 which states that the provision of the relevant rule would be implemented in two phases: in the first phase, certain parameters relating to the technical specifications will be implemented. would apply to all buses from January 1, 2017, and in the second phase, the provisions of the revised specifications would apply from January 1, 2018.

Further, the High Court observed that petitions for better facilities for people with disabilities had been pending since 2007 or even 2005, and nothing fruitful or valuable had been done to address the real grievances or the day-to-day problems encountered. by them.

On behalf of the State, it was argued that there are some practical difficulties, including finding resources not only to acquire the more expensive buses but also to create the road infrastructure to accommodate such sophisticated buses.

While the High Court admitted that the state needed time to indicate a route map, the court also held that it was necessary for the state to be prevented from acquiring any other buses for the public transport system. which would not meet the specifications set out in the 2016 notification. The case is released for a rehearing on August 19, 2021.

Bombay HC: issues guidelines for the proper functioning of the Trees Authority in Goa.

The Bombay District Court in Goa has issued several guidelines for the proper functioning of the forestry authorities in the districts of North and South Goa and to carry out their duties, including carrying out a census of existing trees, planting and transplanting trees, etc.

The forestry authorities were formed under the Goa, Daman and Diu Tree Preservation Act 1984. The High Court heard a petition filed by the NGO Living Heritage Foundation, which pointed out that the forestry authorities in the two districts of north and south Goa were defunct. from the enactment of the Trees Act (1984) or, from November 2012, the date on which the two Forest Authorities were formed.

The High Court expressed its distress at the non-functioning of the forestry authorities in the two districts of Goa and issued a multitude of instructions, some of which:

  • Forestry authorities are required to meet at least once every three months, in accordance with Section 4 (1) of the Trees Act and to perform the tasks for which they are responsible under Section 7 and other provisions of the Tree Act.
  • Forestry authorities are responsible for meeting and considering the co-option of up to three representatives of non-official organizations with specific knowledge or practical experience of tree preservation under section 3 (3) of the tree law. This meeting must be held within two months and the compliance report as well as the decision as reflected in the minutes to be filed in court.
  • The forestry authorities, in accordance with the provisions of Article 7 (b) of the Trees Act, are responsible for carrying out a census of existing trees and obtaining, whenever deemed necessary, declarations from all owners or occupants of the number of trees in their land.
  • Forestry authorities, in accordance with the provisions of Section 7 (e) of the Trees Act, must take appropriate measures for the planting and transplanting of trees made necessary by the construction of buildings, new roads or the construction of trees. widening of existing roads, etc. this regard must be filed by the secretaries who are members of this Court no later than December 31, 2021.
  • The forestry authorities, in accordance with the provisions of Article 7 (i) of the Trees Act, undertake a critical study of the proposals of various ministries and private bodies for the construction of buildings, roads, factories, construction works. Irrigation, development of electrical installations, telephone, telegraph and other transmission lines with regard to the protection of existing trees and the planting of additional trees, to the extent possible. A status report in this regard must be filed by the secretaries who are members of this Court no later than December 31, 2021.
  • Forestry authorities are required to comply with their obligations under section 4 of the Right to Information Act 2005 and to upload the information prescribed in that section to the Forestry Department website.
  • The state government is responsible for establishing the “Tree Protection Fund” as mandated by Section 35-A of the Trees Act within a maximum of six months from the date of judgment.

The selected image: Important justice judgments

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