New Delhi: The Delhi High Court today asked the AAP government to clarify why women and two-wheelers have been exempted from the odd-even number plate scheme coming into effect here from Friday.
“Get instruction why such exemption (women and two- wheelers) is necessary,” a bench of justices Hima Kohli and Sunil Gaur said while directing the Delhi government to submit data on the pollution levels and vehicles plying during the scheme effective for 15 days starting on January 1.
The court, however, refrained from passing any interim order on a plea by Delhi resident Karuna Chhatwal, who sought direction to restrict the movement of cars driven by women drivers as well as two wheelers.
It issued notice to the Delhi government and asked them to file a status report within three days on her plea.
On a plea by an advocate Rahul Aggarwal seeking exemption for lawyers from the scheme, the bench said if it allows them to use their vehicles then this court will be flooded with litigation from doctors and other officials, who have not been included in list of 25 exempted categories.
The court issued notice to Delhi government on another issue raised by advocate Manoj Kumar, who filed a joint PIL with Gunjan Khanna, a petitioner who commutes from Noida, challenging the December 28 notification related to odd-even scheme to check pollution in the capital.
The petitioners said Delhi government should “call for public debate before enforcing the decision”.
The court has now listed the three petitions for further hearing on January 6, when the court will hear other four PILs filed by different individuals against the AAP government’s plan on the odd-even number plate formula.
The vehicles exempted from odd-even scheme includes the President, Vice President, Prime Minister, Chief Justice of India, Union Ministers and Governors and Chief Ministers of states and Union Territories “except that of Delhi”.
Besides, women drivers, CNG-certified vehicles, VIPs, two -wheelers, ambulances, defence vehicles and embassy vehicles have been exempted from Delhi government’s ambitious scheme.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has clarified while announcing the scheme that he and his cavalcade will not avail the exemption offered to the VIPs.
While seeking direction, Chhatwal, in her plea said that granting exemption to women drivers from odd-even scheme was discriminatory, causing prejudice to large number of people.
She further said there was no constitutional provision to grant such exemption. So the scheme is “infringing Right to Life of general public at large, which is violation of fundamental right provided under Article 21 of Constitution of India”.
She said the scheme was introduced to control air pollution and exempting women drivers will defeat the very objective.
“Granting exemption to two wheeler vehicles from odd-even scheme is arbitrary and discriminatory. It is stated that the constitutional guarantee of Right to Equality provides equal rights and liabilities of all citizens,” the plea ddded.
The petition stated that two wheelers emit pollutants and contribute almost 60 per cent of air pollution and cars constitute a part of the remaining air pollution.
Earlier, the high court had refused to pass any interim direction on the PILs, saying, “Delhi government has proposed an idea, which is to be implemnted from January 1, 2016, on trial basis for 15 days, let them (Delhi government) try it.”
The court’s oral observation was made during hearing the PILs, filed by Shweta Kapoor and Sarvesh Singh, which sought directions for restraining implementation of policy.
One of the petitioners has claimed “imposition of such a policy/law would be contrary to public interest and has been imposed without any public debate or discussion and without understanding situation and facts and circumstances in India”.
It has also questioned whether the AAP government has the power to modify vehicular movement in the national capital.