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Delhi HC to decide Taxi Union's challenge against NCR taxi ban amid pollution debate

Delhi HC to decide Taxi Union's challenge against NCR taxi ban amid pollution debate

In a recent legal development, the Azad Taxi Union (Punjab) has filed a writ petition before the Delhi High Court challenging the prohibition imposed on taxis entering the Delhi National Capital Region (NCR). The central argument put forth by the union contends that the ban, ostensibly implemented to curb pollution, unfairly targets year-round taxi operators, particularly those engaged in airport services.

The union posits that the true culprits behind the environmental issue are the winter winds carrying pollution from the regions of Himachal, Punjab, and Haryana. Agricultural practices, especially crop burning in these areas, significantly contribute to air pollution, which is then transported into Delhi NCR by prevailing wind currents.

Highlighting the disproportionate impact on taxi operators, the Azad Taxi Union underscores their vital role in the community, contributing substantial taxes, and serving clients consistently throughout the year. The union also argues that the prohibition violates the principles enshrined in Article 21 of the Constitution of India, adversely affecting the livelihoods of taxi operators, who often serve as primary breadwinners for their families.

In its pursuit of a fair resolution, the union implored the Delhi High Court to consider broader factors influencing pollution and to adjudicate in a manner that does not unduly burden the taxi industry. The Azad Taxi Union seeks a just hearing and hopes for an equitable outcome that carefully weighs the livelihood concerns of its members against the broader environmental challenges.

After hearing the contentions of both parties the court in its order dated 20.11.2023 stated that, a notice in the petition was issued on November 10, 2023, involving legal proceedings where counsel for the Government of NCT of Delhi (GNCTD) requested time to gather instructions. Mr. Satyakam, representing GNCTD, informed the court that the contested orders were issued based on directions from the Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM), established under the Commission for Air Quality Management in National Capital Regional and Adjoining Areas Act, 2021.

The petitioner, representing a union member, challenged CAQM's directives as lacking rational or scientific basis, prompting a request to include CAQM as a party in the writ petition. The court granted permission, requiring an amended list of parties within two days.

The Department of Transport, GNCTD, assured delivery of the petition and orders to CAQM for response. Respondents were given four weeks for counter affidavits, with an additional two weeks for rejoinder. The court also acknowledged a potential link to the Graded Response Action Plan guidelines for air quality emergencies in NCT of Delhi. While granting time for responses, the court warned of imposing costs if the petitioner fails to substantiate their case.

The next hearing is scheduled for January 29, 2024.

Case: AZAD TAXI UNION (PUNJAB) vs. GOVT. OF NCT OF DELHI,

W.P.(C) 14829/2023 & CM APPL. 58999/2023.

Click here to read/download order.

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