Government Invoked Rare Rule To Set Up Air Quality Panel: Sources

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had invoked provisions under a special rule for the ordinance.

The ordinance or executive order of the Centre to help set up a permanent committee to look into the air quality management in Delhi and adjoining areas, was rushed through yesterday under special provisions, bypassing the Union cabinet, sources told NDTV. The ordinance was passed ahead of a Supreme Court hearing today on the pollution issue. In the last hearing, the Centre had promised the court to form a special body through the legislative route.

Normally an executive order has to be passed through the cabinet. But sources said the 11th-hour  ordinance was issued with Prime Minister Narendra Modi invoking provisions under a special rule to get it signed by the President ahead of the Supreme Court hearing.

A cabinet minister involved in the exercise who did not want to be named, said, “We will take cabinet approval post facto within a month. We had to do this as there was an urgency to meet the court’s deadline”.

The Centre had told the Supreme Court on Monday that it would create a permanent body to deal with the annual air pollution problem in Delhi and surrounding areas in a holistic manner.

The new law would be brought within three or four days, the Centre had told the court and asked that the one-man commission of Justice (Retired) MB Lokur to monitor stubble burning in Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, be suspended.

Under the new ordinance, the Centre will form a permanent commission which will replace all other committees to streamline public participation, inter-state cooperation in managing air pollution in the NCR and its adjoining areas.

The 18-member commission will be headed by a chairperson appointed by the Centre. This will have representatives from Delhi, Haryana, UP, Punjab and Rajasthan.

The last time the Prime Minister invoked the provision to bypass the cabinet was during the Enemy Property ordinance. Then President Pranab Mukherjee had rebuked the government, asking why it was bypassing the legislature.

There have been other occasions when the special rule was invoked, like the declaration of Emergency in 1975, which was conducted without the approval of the Union cabinet.

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