New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday “requested” Union minister of road transport and highways Nitin Gadkari to come to the court for an interaction and share his “innovative ideas” on tackling pollution and switching over to electric vehicles.
The court sought the presence of the minister to know his views, as Chief Justice S.A.Bobde noted that there was focus on firecrackers and stubble burning which are seasonal but not on the vehicles that cause pollution round the year.
As a Bench comprising Chief Justice S.A.Bobde, Justice B.R.Gavai and Justice Surya Kant requested the minister to be present in the court on next hearing, Additional Solicitor General Atmaram Nadkarni objected to it, saying that it would be construed political and tried to dissuade the court from calling the minister.
However, CJI Bobde said, “We want to make it clear that we are not summoning him.”
Making a distinction between a minister and an official, the court said that an official may have one side of the picture and not the holistic view of the issue — which a minister has.
Further clarifying that they only wanted to hear the minister and his “innovative ideas”, CJI Bobde, pointing towards Prashant Bhushan appearing for the petitioner NGO Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL), said, “He has not asked for it (presence of the minister), we are not acting at his behest.”
“The minister has innovative ideas. On the next date, we will ask the minister to be present. We want to hear him. He is in a position to take decision,” the Bench said, setting to rest any apprehensions that may arise on the minister being called to the court.
Referring to the related issues pending before the court, including use of hydrogen as a fuel, the Bench in its order today 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.”
“We consider it appropriate that all the issues be considered simultaneously and with the assistance of an authority empowered to take decisions,” the order said.
Earlier at the outset of the hearing, Mr Bhushan told the court about the government policy of switching over to electric vehicles.