Supreme Court keen on listening to Nitin Gadkari on vehicles running on electricity, hydrogen

An electric vehicle charging station.

An electric vehicle charging station.   | Photo Credit: Getty Images

CJI, later settles for an affidavit.

Chief Justice of India (CJI) Sharad A. Bobde on Wednesday orally expressed the Supreme Court's keenness to have Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari attend a hearing and explain his plans to induct vehicles running on electricity, and usage of clean fuels such as hydrogen.

However, Additional Solicitor General A.N.S. Nadkarni said a Minister's presence in the court would give rise to political speculations.

The exchange happened during the hearing of a petition filed by NGO Centre for Public Interest Litigation, represented by advocate Prashant Bhushan, for timely implementation of the Electric Vehicle Policy (EVP) and Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid & Electric Vehicles (FAME) India scheme.

Chief Justice Bobde clarified that the court's invitation to the Minister to come and explain in person should not be misinterpreted as a summons, an order or an indictment. It was merely because the court wanted to have a wholistic picture about the policy to shift to electric powered vehicles, and the minister would be the best person to give it.

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“Your Minister has been making many statements about the introduction of CNG (compressed natural gas), electric vehicles, etc. Officers may be responsible but they may not have the whole picture though...”, Chief Justice Bobde explained to Mr. Nadkarni.

The court assuaged the government side, saying “in case you are worried about the political angle, we are not doing this at the behest of the petitioner or Mr. Bhushan. He is not going to argue with the minister. We want to make it very clear that we are not summoning him”.

Comprehensive affidavit

Mr. Nadkarni said the government would first like to file a comprehensive affidavit in the court on its projects for clean fuels.

Later in the hearing, the CJI indicated that if the minister cannot add anything useful, then he could instruct whoever is responsible to assist the court in the issue. The court asked the government to file its affidavit in four weeks.

Chief Justice Bobde said there were many cases pending in the Supreme Court concerning air pollution. “There are cases concerning the bursting of firecrackers during Diwali, which comes only once a year. But vehicular pollution is an every day phenomenon. It is a persistent problem and source of pollution. Nobody is talking of this most polluting thing”..

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If vehicular pollution was resolved, it would substantially reduce the impact of other forms of toxicity in the air, the CJI noted.

The problem of vehicular pollution largely pertained to the fuel used in vehicles impacted not only Delhi but also the entire country and even globally, the court 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. Not only the NCR [National Capital Regiob] but whole country... We consider it appropriate that all the issues be considered simultaneously and with the assistance of an authority empowered to take decisions”, the court said posted the case after a month.

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Printable version | Apr 10, 2020 6:41:03 AM |

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