SC puts on hold order appointing Justice Madan Lokur to head panel to prevent stubble-burning

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta informs Bench that a new law may come out in the next few days that proposes to have a permanent body to deal with stubble-burning.

Updated - October 26, 2020 11:14 pm IST

Published - October 26, 2020 03:12 pm IST - NEW DELHI:

Justice Madan B. Lokur.

Justice Madan B. Lokur.

The Supreme Court on Monday decided to “keep in abeyance” its pre-Dussehra order appointing former Supreme Court judge Justice Madan B. Lokur to a one-man committee to monitor/prevent stubble-burning in Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab.

The decision to put on hold its October 16 order came soon after Solicitor General Tushar Mehta informed a Bench led by Chief Justice of India Sharad A. Bobde that the Centre had “proposed a legislation to tackle the problem” which occurs annually and chokes the Capital.

Mr. Mehta said the new law may come out in the next few days that proposed to have a permanent body to deal with stubble-burning.

“Having regard to the statement made, we consider it appropriate that the measures adopted in the order of October 16 be kept in abeyance until further orders,” the court recorded in its order.

On October 16, the court asked Justice Lokur with the help of student volunteer forces deployed from the National Cadet Corps, National Service Scheme and Bharat Scouts and Guides to protect Delhi NCR from air pollution caused by stubble-burning in neighbouring Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh this winter.

The court had said the student forces could patrol highways and fields in the three States and ensure that no fires were started in the fields.

It asked the Chief Secretaries of the three States to provide facilities to the committee and provide student volunteers with adequate transportation to aid their vigil.

It directed the existing mobile teams and nodal officers of the States to report to the committee.

The court chose Justice Lokur for the task as the retired judge had headed the Green Bench which was monitoring stubble-burning for two whole years before his retirement.

His name was recommended by senior advocate Vikas Singh, who is appearing for two children apprehensive about the onslaught of incoming waves of smog caused by unbridled stubble burning in the three States this winter.

Mr. Singh voiced that the issue of stubble-burning had to be tackled without delay. Mr. Mehta said the government shared the concerns of his clients.

The Bench said the court would opt for status quo till it studied the proposed law. A hearing has been scheduled for Thursday.

The last time, Mr. Singh had said that stubble fires were five times more in Punjab regardless of a remote-sensing app used by the State.

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