Delhi HC refuses to interfere with govt’s odd-even scheme

By: | Published: January 12, 2016 12:58 AM

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)-led Delhi government received a shot in the arm with the Delhi High Court on Monday refusing to interfere with its odd-even vehicles policy...

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)-led Delhi government received a shot in the arm with the Delhi High Court on Monday refusing to interfere with its odd-even vehicles policy to control rising air pollution in the city, saying it cannot interfere with the policy decisions. It, however, directed the government to take into consideration the grievances of citizens before taking any further decision on the scheme’s extension.

Observing that restrictions under the scheme were only till Friday, a bench comprising Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Jayant Nath said: “It’s neither within the domain of the courts nor the scope of judicial review to embark upon an enquiry as to whether a particular public policy is wise or whether a better public policy can be evolved as suggested by petitioners.”

It also said “law is well settled that on matters affecting policy, courts will not interfere unless the policy is unconstitutional or contrary to statutory provisions or arbitrary or irrational or in abuse of power. Since, the policy decisions are taken based on expert knowledge of persons concerned, courts are normally not equipped to question the correctness of a policy decision,” the bench said.

Though the implementation of the scheme may have caused hardship to a section of society, “power of judicial review cannot be extended to determine correctness of such policy decision or to find out whether there could be more appropriate or better alternatives,” the bench stated.

“Keeping in view that restrictions under notification are only for a limited period of 15 days and it is stated that the scheme has been enforced as a pilot project to ascertain the reduction, if any, of pollution levels, we are of the view that interference by this court is not warranted,” it said in its 12-page order. The order came on a batch of petitions filed by various individuals, including lawyers, who had challenged the government’s December 28, 2015 notification imposing the scheme which allows private cars bearing odd registration numbers to ply on odd dates and those with even numbers on even dates.

Stating that 46% pollution was caused by trucks, the petitions said the data submitted by the government was not correct and the particulate matter across the capital showed a rising trend despite the scheme being in place since January 1. Placing the air quality reports from the Central Pollution Control Board and Delhi Pollution Control Committee before the court, it was contended that the scheme had no positive effect.

Defending the scheme, the government had said it aimed at reducing congestion on Delhi’s roads that has contributed towards lowering of pollution. Senior counsel Harish Salve, appearing for the Delhi government, submitted that the odd-even scheme had a definite positive effect and there is a significant reduction in air pollution levels in Delhi. “The data of pollution levels collected during the one week period is not enough to decide the future course of action and therefore, it is necessary to continue the odd-even scheme till Friday in terms of the notification,” he added.

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