M. C Mehta v Union of India AIR 2001 SC 1846

M. C Mehta v Union of India AIR 2001 SC 1846

Writ Petn. [Civil] No. 13029 of 1985, D/26-3-2001

Environment [Protection]Act, 1986, Sec. 3

Constitution of India Art. 21

Motor vehicles Act, 1988 Sec. 56

Air pollution in Delhi–Direction to convert entire Delhi city bus fleet to single fule of CNG by 31-3-2001–As also direction that no 8 years old bus shall ply except on CNG or other clean fuel after 1-4-2001 passed by the SC in 1998 AIR SCW 2813–Application for extension of dead line fixed for compliance–Blanket extension refused–Binds all bus operators–however to mitigate sufferings of commuter public relaxation given to schools, DTC, contract carriage operators and others including autos by allowing them to operate vehicles equal to number of vehicles for which steps for conversion has been taken–low sulphur diesel- clean fuel -question referred to committee set up under Act.

On 28th July, 1998, the Supreme Court had directed inter alia, that the entire fleet of city buses which are operating in Delhi be converted to single fule CNG mode by 31st March, 2001. Despite this direction, given nearly 3 years back, the government of Delhi’s response has been extremely tardy to say the least. No serious attention was paid to the order by the administration and it appears that even the private operators got encouraged by this tardy response and they also did to take appropriate steps to comply wit the order of the Supreme Court.

It was after taking note of the submissions made at the bar, to mitigate to whatever extent possible, the hardship which the commuter public would have been put to particularly the school going children, that on 26th March, 2001, certain relaxations were given by the Supreme Court. It was directed, inter alia that all those vehicle owners who have taken effective steps or shall take so by 31st March, 2001, for the purpose of either acquiring new buses which would operate on CNG fuel mode or to convert their existing buses to operate on CNG fuel mode could be granted permits/authorizations after filing proper affidavits/undertakings in the Supreme Court, to ply their existing vehicles not more than eight years old, equal in number, till 30th Sept. 2001. This dispensation was also extended to other commercial vehicles which were required to switch over to CNG fuel mode.

The Court also took note of the fact that as the existing ground realities shows a near breakdown of the transport system in Delhi, primarily due to inaction on the part of Delhi Administration to take timely effective steps, the citizens should not be made to suffer for somebody else follies. The Court also observed that the Delhi administration was duty bound under the Constitution Art. 144 to act in aid of the Supreme Court directives and any failure, shall be seriously treated by the Apex Court.