No redressal for non-compliance of statutory provisions of environmental laws for 20 years

Delhi High Court

Delhi High Court: Deciding on the issue of legality and validity of the fee schedule prescribed by the  Delhi Pollution Control Committee, wherein the petitioner Hotel was served with show-cause notices under Section 33-A of the Water (Prevention & Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 and Section 31-A of the Air (Prevention Control of Pollution) Act, 1981 the learned Single Judge Manmohan, J., observed that a writ petition solely praying for refund of money against the State is not maintainable. The Court held that the present writ petition is liable to be dismissed not only on the grounds of statutory non-compliance of the environmental law, but also since the petitioner did not approach this Court with clean hands.

The petitioner had contended that under the threat of imminent closure and penal actions, it was forced to pay an amount of Rs 41 lakhs as condonation fee under protest, seeking consent to operate and that it was liable to pay Rs. 46,000 only as per the previous fee structure and sought for the refund of the remaining amount. The Court held that, to treat the omission on the part of petitioner to comply with the laws as innocent non-compliance trivializes the statutory provisions which has a vital and direct impact on the lives of the citizens. The petitioner continued to run his hotel without obtaining any “consent to establish” and “consent to operate” and without installation of any anti-pollution equipment for the past twenty years. Since a very important and salutary provision of the environmental law was not complied with by the petitioner, the Court decided not to entertain the writ petition in exercise of equitable jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution. The petition was dismissed. [Krishna Continental Ltd.v. Delhi Pollution Control Committee, 2016 SCC OnLine Del 3629, decided on May 2, 2016]

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