The governments of Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Rajasthan have been sleeping like ‘Kumbhakarna’ and now they are “blaming” the court for passing orders banning use of pet coke and furnace oil in their states, the Supreme Court said today. A bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta took strong exception to these states creating an impression that the order was passed by the top court without giving them notice. The anguished bench also asked whether it was the duty of court to wake these states up. “On what basis do you say it was done without notice? If the state governments are sleeping, is it our duty to wake them up,” the bench asked after perusing an affidavit filed by the Centre in the matter. Additional Solicitor General A N S Nadkarni, appearing for the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF), was quick to respond, saying that the Centre has not said anything like this but was said by these states in their representation on the issue of ban on pet coke and furnace oil.
“How can they say it was without notice,” the bench asked, adding “they start making allegations blaming the court and they were sleeping like Kumbhakarna”. Kumbhakarna, the younger brother of King Ravana in the epic Ramayana, used to sleep for six months at one go. Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for Rajasthan, said he would look into the matter and assured the bench that these averments would be withdrawan. The counsel representing Haryana and Uttar Pradesh also said they would file their affidavits in this regard. “Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan have volunteered to file affidavit withdrawing the suggestions made that October 24 order was passed without notice to these states,” the bench said and directed that affidavits be filed within two weeks.
The bench observed that when it had passed the order on October 24 placing a ban on use of furnace oil and pet coke in states of Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Rajasthan from November 1, no counsel had appeared for Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan. “To make the situation worse, there is no representation on behalf of the state of UP, nor is there any representation from the state of Rajasthan,” the apex court had noted in its October 24 order. “Counsel appearing for the state of Haryana wants us to wait for two minutes so that he can get instructions from the state government. We are not inclined to wait for two minutes so as to enable counsel to get instructions. Instructions should have been obtained well before the date of hearing,” it had said.
The Centre had later informed the top court that the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has issued a direction prohibiting the use of pet coke and furnace oil until further orders in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Haryana. The use of pet coke and furnace oil is already prohibited in Delhi. The court was hearing a PIL filed in 1985 by environmentalist M C Mehta who had raised the issue of air pollution in the Delhi-NCR. Earlier, the court was told about the ill-effects of pet coke and furnace oil used in the industries on ambient air and it was said that emissions from such units were highly toxic as these discharged high sulphur content.