M.C. MEHTA Vs. UNION OF INDIA AND OTHERS
SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
UNION OF INDIA AND OTHERS
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(1.) This order shall dispose of W.P. (C) No. 817 of 2015 filed under Article 32 of the Constitution of India and I.As. No. 366, 369, 370, 373 and 374 filed by the SMYR Consortium LLP and I.As. No. 367 and 368 filed by the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) in W.P.(C) No. 13029 of 1985.
(2.) Writ Petition (Civil) No. 13029 of 1985 pending in this Court for over three decades has been filed in public interest by Shri M.C. Mehta, a noted environmentalist, in which the petitioner primarily seeks directions considered suitable for improving the environment in the national capital region. A series of orders have been passed by this Court in the said petition over the past 30 years. What, however, has triggered the controversy raised in Writ Petition (c) No. 817 of 2015 and the connected applications being disposed of by this Order is an order passed by this Court on 9th October, 2015, by which this Court had, inter alia, directed levy of "Environmental Compensation Charge" (ECC) of Rs. 700/- and Rs. 1300/- for the categories of vehicles, mentioned in the said order. Passenger vehicles, ambulances and vehicles carrying essential commodities like food-stuffs were, however, exempted from the said charge and so were oil tankers. The collection of ECC, from the vehicles entering Delhi from several entry points at the periphery was entrusted to the petitioner in Writ Petition(Civil) No. 817 of 2015 viz. SMYR Consortium LLP (hereinafter referred to as 'SMYR' or 'toll collector') who is the toll collector, by virtue of a contract entered into between the SMYR and South Delhi Municipal Corporation. The proceeds of the collections are to be eventually handed over to the Government of NCT of Delhi by the Friday of every week. Delhi Government was in turn directed to furnish accounts of the receipts and the expenditure incurred to Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) and to this Court on a quarterly basis. This Court had further directed the toll collector to put in place a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) system at its own cost at nine main entry points in the city by November 30, 2015 and on the remaining 118 entry points by 31st January, 2016 failing which the toll collector was to be treated as being in breach of their contractual obligation. Several other directions were issued by this Court which are of no immediate relevance for disposal of the present writ petition and the interlocutory applications. Pursuant thereto, Govt. of NCT of Delhi has issued notification dated 20th October, 2015 and modified notification dated 30th October, 2015 imposing ECC as per the rates mentioned in the order dated 9th October, 2015.
(3.) The above directions were then followed by yet another order passed by us on 16th December, 2015, by which we had, apart from raising the levy, issued certain further directions including a direction that traffic from N.H.-1 connecting the Northern States to Delhi and N.H.-8 connecting Jaipur and Western parts of the country to the national capital Delhi shall be diverted to bypass the city. Certain other directions regarding conversion of diesel taxis into C.N.G.-run vehicles and regarding registration of SUVs and private cars of the capacity of 2000 cc and above running on diesel fuel were also issued. This order paved way for yet another notification dated 23rd December, 2015 revising the rates of ECC.;
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