New Delhi: “Delhi is getting buried under mountain loads of garbage and Mumbai is sinking” – an angry Supreme Court on Tuesday expressed concern and helplessness on the situation in the states and union territories for not filing affidavits on the policies on solid waste management. The top court said the situation is becoming worse and the governments are not doing anything.
The apex court fined 10 states and two UTs and said when the governments are not doing their jobs, the court has to interfere and when the courts intervene, they are attacked for judicial activism.
Justices MB Lokur and Deepak Gupta were referring to the recent SC order in the power tussle between Lt Governor Anil Baijal and Aam Aadmi Party government in the national capital and asked who was responsible for cleaning the “mountain of garbage” at Okhla, Bhalswa and Ghazipur.
“Courts attacked for judicial activism”
“You see, Delhi is getting buried under mountain loads of garbage and Mumbai is sinking. But yet, the government does not do anything. When the courts intervene, we are attacked for judicial activism. We are given lectures on separation of powers and encroachment of jurisdiction,” the two-judge bench said, as quoted by news agency PTI.
An exasperated top court slapped a Rs 1 lakh fine on Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Goa, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, West Bengal, Kerala, Karnataka, Meghalaya, Punjab, Lakshadweep and Puducherry for not filing the affidavit even after SC’s previous order to do so.
Rs two lakh fine was also slapped on defaulting states and Uts.
“One final opportunity is given to these States/UTs to comply with the laws governing India, failing which we may have to call the Chief Secretary of the concerned States/UTs to inform us why the laws governing India are not applicable to these States/UTs,” the apex court said.
It also set the matter for further hearing on August 7. The bench said, “The tragedy is that more than two-thirds of the States/UTs in the country have neither bothered to comply with the orders passed by the Court nor bothered to comply with the directions given by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEF).
“This is not only a tragic state of affairs but a shocking state of affairs, particularly since solid waste management is a huge problem in this country.”
“What should we do?”
“Every second day, we are attacked for judicial activism. Every now and then there is a statement that courts are resorting to judicial activism or encroaching upon the powers of the executive or the legislature. What should we do when nobody is working,” the SC bench said.
Additional Solicitor General ANS Nadkarni was asked by the bench, “What if the government does not do any work or acts in a very irresponsible manner? What should happen and who shall be held accountable? They don’t even follow our orders.”
To which he said, the states, according to the Constitution, are required to comply with the orders given by the Supreme Court. He also said the officers can be held accountable for non-compliance.
“The Solid Waste Management Rules came into force on or about April 8, 2016. We are two years down the line, but we are shocked to know that more than two-thirds of the States/UTs in the country have not yet complied with the basic requirement of the Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016,” the bench said.