NEW DELHI: The National Green Tribunal's order imposiing pollution charges, along with toll tax, on commercial vehicles criss-crossing Delhi may be nullified, with the Supreme Court virtually agreeing with the plea in this regard, saying its order would "override" all the existing ones.
Reserving its order for pronouncement on Monday, a three -judge bench headed by Chief Justice H L Dattu said this decision would be effective for four months and the government and others, if affected, may come later for modification.
The bench, which also included justices Arun Mishra and Adarsh Kumar Goel, perused the National Green Tribunal (NGT) order directing payment of environmental compensation charge by commercial vehicles entering Delhi and agreed with the plea of senior advocate Harish Salve that it should take up the issue.
"Our order will override all other existing orders and will be effective for four months on trial basis. The state or any other bodies or association can seek modification later if necessary," the bench said, indicating that its decision will nullify the NGT's order.
It also seemed to be in agreement with the plea that passenger buses, vehicles with essential commodities, food articles and ambulances may be exempted from paying 'pollution compensatory charges'. It said Delhi government will have to issue a notification in pursuance of the court's direction.
Senior advocate Dushyant Dave, appearing for the Delhi government, then urged the apex court to mention it in the order to avoid confusion and future conflicts between the city dispensation and other bodies.
Salve, who is the amicus curiae in a 1985 PIL filed by environmentalist M C Mehta, has sought directions to the Centre, Delhi Government and the Municipal Corporation of Delhi to ensure "commercial vehicles entering the city of Delhi are required to pay a sum of not less than Rs 600 (for LCV and 2-axle) and not less than Rs 1200 (for 3-axle and above). "This pollution compensatory charge will be imposed in addition to the toll charge imposed by MCD."
Salve today also submitted his suggestions to the bench on ways to tackle the problems caused by entry of heavy commercial vehicles in Delhi from neighbouring Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan. Yesterday, the court had decided to peruse the NGT's order directing the payment of environmental compensation charge by commercial vehicles entering Delhi, before proceeding with the hearing of Salve's a plea seeking levy of similar charges.
Salve, during the hearing, had referred to the report of the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority for NCR (EPCA) and said a large number of commercial vehicles opt Delhi and NCR roads, instead of the highways, as it is cheaper to traverse through the capital city.
His plea has also sought a direction that "all collection of toll for vehicles entering Delhi be switched to the Radio- Frequency Identification (RFID) system of collection of toll on and from the 1st of December 2015."
The NGT, on October 7, had acted tough on rising vehicular pollution in the national capital and directed all commercial vehicles entering Delhi to pay environmental compensation charge, in addition to the toll tax.
The green panel had ordered that the compensation would be payable at the rates of Rs 700 for two-axle vehicles, Rs 1,000 for three-axle and Rs 500 for four-axle and above.