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Odd-Even scheme to be implemented from 4th November: Delhi HC dismisses PIL challenging it

The Delhi High Court has just dismissed a public interest litigation (PIL), which opposed the Delhi government’s odd-even scheme to improve the national capital’s air quality. The petitioner had alleged that the odd-even scheme violated the fundamental rights of citizens, and sought its quashing by the High Court. The petitioner had also alleged that the owners of CNG powered cars would be put to great inconvenience by this scheme.

A division bench of the High Court has dismissed the petition on the grounds that the petitioner didn’t first approach the government seeking redressal. With that, the odd-even scheme is all set to be implemented in Delhi from the 4th of November, 2019, and will run up to 15th of November. Farmers in the states of Punjab and Haryana, which are close to Delhi, have already begun burning crops, and this has deteriorated air quality in the national capital region.

The upcoming festival of lights – Diwali – is also expected to increase air pollution levels as Delhi is typically a city where crackers are burst in a big way during this festival. Two wheelers, emergency vehicles and transport vehicles are exempt from the odd-even scheme and so are women. However, vehicles from other states passing through Delhi during the odd-even scheme will not be exempt.

The odd-even scheme is the brainchild of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government, and has been implemented on multiple occasions in the past. While some argue that the scheme has had negligible impact in improving air quality of the national capital, many others feel that it actually helps by not worsening an already big problem. All in all, it remains a polarizing scheme.

How does it work?

Cars whose number plates end with even digits (0,2,4,6 and 8) will be able to ply on days with even dates (such as, 2nd, 4th, 6th, 8th, 10th and so on). Cars whose number plates end with odd digits (1,3,5,7 and 9) will be able to ply on days with odd dates (such as 1st, 3rd, 5th, 7th, 9th and so on). For now, the Delhi CM has announced that this scheme will be valid only until the 15th of November, 2019.

Meanwhile, here are two key angles in the petitioner’s submission to the High Court,

The discriminatory policy for implementation of odd and even scheme is opposed to the principles of equalities and right to lives which are guaranteed under article 14 of the constitution of India. He prays that the Delhi government must be directed to exempt the CNG driven vehicles form odd and even scheme in the interest of public at large. The owners of CNG driven vehicles are environmentally conscious long before the implementation of odd even scheme to protect the environment by paying more money from their pocket at the time of purchase of CNG driven vehicles. Hence, the decision of respondent No.1 is arbitrary and illegal and not in the interest of public at large.

Featured image courtesy HT