The implementation of National Green Tribunal's (NGT's) order asking to deduct a fine of Rs 250 million from salaries of Delhi government officials who failed to curb pollution of various kinds in the state, and from people polluting the environment, could be a challenge, experts said.
Though the order is unprecedented, the idea is to install some sort of fear among the erring officials and citizens, a lawyer who followed the case said.
"The idea is to go after polluting industries. However, innocent people should not be prosecuted and that remains a challenge," the lawyer said.
The NGT had on Monday fined the Delhi government Rs 250 million for failing to check increasing pollution of various forms in the national capital region. The fine amount, the NGT had said, would be deducted from the salaries of state government officials who had failed to control the pollution and from people caught polluting the environment.
"Such an order is unprecedented but we all need to realise that it's a very serious situation. Therefore, such strong orders are being passed... so that necessary steps are taken at the earliest to control air pollution in the national capital region," Nawneet Vibhaw, partner at Khaitan & Co, said.
If the government fails to pay the fine within four months from today, a penalty of Rs 100 million per month will further be charged from them, the advocate for petitioner Alakh Alok Srivastava said.
"The NGT has also directed the state government to deposit a performance guarantee of Rs 250 million, which will be forfeited if they fail to comply with the various directions in the order," Srivastava said.
Monday's order fining the state government follows several earlier orders by the tribunal in which it had asked the Chief Secretary of Delhi government to submit compliance reports of action being taken. The compliance report submitted, however, was not up to the mark, which irked the NGT, Srivastava said.
The order by the NGT comes close on the heels of the Supreme Court's observation that the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) should prosecute government officials who had not yet acted on the 250-odd complaints submitted by citizens.
"Why don't you prosecute these officials? You should prosecute them. Let these people realise what they have done," a two-judge Bench of Justice Madan B Lokur and Justice Deepak Gupta had said.