New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Monday asked the AAP government whether there was any possibility of exempting advocates for the remaining period of the ongoing second phase of the odd-even scheme which would continue till 30 April.
A bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Jayant Nath made the query while hearing a petition which has sought exemption for lawyers from the scheme and also against imposition of Rs 2,000 as fine for violation without proper amendments in the Motor Vehicles Act.
"We will take up the matter tomorrow and you (counsel for the government) take instructions if there is any possibility of exempting lawyers from remaining period of odd-even scheme, which will expire on 30 April," the bench said.
Delhi government's senior standing counsel Rahul Mehra told the bench that like the first round held in January, the second round of the odd-even scheme from 15 April to 30 April was for a limited period.
"This (odd-even scheme) will end on Saturday (30 April). This is on experiment basis," he said.
Advocate Rajiv Khosla, the petitioner in the matter, maintained that the government was saying that the demands of advocates were duly considered but out of the total number of lawyers in the national capital, only 10 per cent were having cars.
"Number of cars used by lawyers per day here is only about 3,000," he said while giving the break up of cars used by lawyers in the high court, the Supreme Court, district courts and forums.
During the hearing, the bench observed, "This is a policy decision for a limited period."
To this, Khosla, who is also the President of the Delhi High Court Bar Association, said, "Lawyers are a different class. The Supreme Court says we cannot go on strike."
The bench then said, "Doctors also have their problems (in odd-even scheme)."
Khosla responded, "Lawyers have to carry books and files. Lawyers have to reach courts and forums on time and working of courts cannot come to a standstill if they are not present due to this scheme."
Referring to the newspaper reports, he argued that Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has also said that the pollution level has not come down during the odd-even scheme.
"Let them (government) allow lawyers for remaining period of the odd-even scheme," he said.
Mehra, however, said that he would seek instruction on it after which the bench posted the matter for tomorrow.
Meanwhile, the high court asked the Delhi government to file its counter on a separate plea which has sought quashing of the notification restricting movement of vehicles on the basis of odd-even registration numbers here.
The plea, filed by Delhi resident Rohini Jolly, came up for hearing before the bench where the counsel appearing for the petitioner said that the government, in its affidavit filed in the matter, has not said anything on the issue raised by him.
"They (government) have exempted women on the ground that there was safety issue in public transports here. There is no rationale to exempt only the women who can drive," the counsel said.
The court has fixed the plea for hearing on 19 July.
In its affidavit filed in the court, the government said that the odd-even scheme was in the "light of the dangerous levels of pollution which have plagued the NCT region and is harming the health and safety."
It said that issues raised by petitioners were discussed in meeting chaired by the Chief Minister on 6 April to review the preparation of the scheme.
It said after due deliberations, the objections raised by the petitioners were rejected on merit and it was decided that the scheme should continue along with certain exemptions which were decided after detailed deliberations.
The government also said "massive public opinion" exercise was carried out on the issue.
It said 276 'mohalla sabhas' were conducted on 6 February and 7 February, 2016 in which 43,113 people have participated.
275 'mohalla sabhas' said that odd-even scheme should be brought back while 267 sabhas said that this scheme should be made permanent, it said, adding that nine sabhas were of the view that it should be done for 15 days or a month during the second phase.
The government also said that 238 'mohalla sabhas' said two-wheelers should be exempted from odd-even scheme while 132 sabhas said that exemption should be given to the women.