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Plea to ban harmful pesticides: Supreme Court asks Central government to submit expert committee reports (but not in sealed cover)

A bench of Chief Justice of India (CJI) DY Chandrachud and Justices PS Narasimha and JB Pardiwala also turned down the government’s request to place the reports only before the bench without sharing it with the petitioner.

“The Union Government shall place on the record the final report of the Dr S K Khurana Sub Committee (referred to in paragraph 10 of the status report) and the report dated September 6, 2022 of the committee chaired by Dr T P Rajendran (referred to in paragraph 11 of the status report). The Union Government shall also file a further affidavit explaining the basis on which action has been taken presently only with respect to three pesticides in the notification dated February 2, 2023, within a period of four weeks from today,” the Court directed.

“We will disclose the committee report to the bench only,” Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Vikramjit Banerjee representing the Central government, said.

“Whatever you disclose to us will be disclosed to other side (petitioner),” the bench said.

The Court was hearing a batch of petitions seeking ban on 116 pesticides in the country. The petitioners contended that those have been banned internationally since they were found harmful to the health of children.

The Central government opposed the plea, arguing that companies put a lot of effort in developing pesticides.

How can he [ petitioners’ counsel advocate Prashant Bhushan] just come and submit across the bar that this and this is happening? There is a process. He just submits across the bar, ‘ban this and ban that’,” the ASG said.

“Many corporates develop these pesticides. Let not the court be used for this purpose,” Banerjee contended.

The Court, however, said that the government had initially listed 27 pesticides in its draft notification but the final notification had only three pesticides.

“If you did your job well we would not be hearing this, na. They say 18 pesticides have carcinogenic effect on children. Out of 27 pesticides, why only three are banned,” the Court demanded.

The ASG opposed using courts and PILs to challenge such decisions by the government.

They are citing reports from European farmers associations, some indiscriminate organisation etc. Why is this Court being used to it? They want to hijack the process de hors the Act, then what happens to the process under the Act?

The CJI responded saying that the Court needs to be convinced about the process of narrowing down the number of pesticides to three.

Just show us the process. Draft notification had 27 pesticides … then you have 3 pesticides in final notification. Show us the basis for that. We need to be satisfied. They may have an agenda, but show us the process,” the bench insisted.

The bench then posted the case for hearing on April 28.

Source: Barandbench

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