[Dengue Control in Delhi] Delhi High Court refuses to legislate on issue, says "populist" Govt afraid of increasing challan amounts

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Pulling up the city's three municipal corporations as well as the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government for their failure to control the spread of dengue, whose numbers have doubled this year, the Delhi High Court told the South Delhi Municipal Corporation that while it is all for increasing challan amounts to act as a deterrent, the Government doesn't take these steps itself because it is afraid of losing votes.

Taking into consideration the various primary and peripheral issues, the Court said it would appoint an amicus curiae in the matter. It rejected a suggestion for appointment of an expert as amicus, saying that the issue will involve dealing with Court processes and therefore only a lawyer will be appointed.

"However, the help of experts will be taken and even their suggestions and reports will be looked into," the Bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Jasmeet Singh added.

During the course of the hearing it noted that most drains in the East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC) area were open and the “stench is unbearable”, and said that there is a complete paralysis in civic administration as no one is bothered about the deaths.

SDMC, on the other hand, told the Court that these unprecedented number of deaths was because of heavy rainfall faced by the capital in October. 

The counsel for SDMC further submitted that several Resident Welfare Associations (RWAs) are not cooperating with the authorities for fogging and to keep a tab on mosquito breeding. He, therefore, demanded that directions be passed to increase the fine limit from Rs. 500 to Rs.10,000 along with a right to collect the said fine on the spot.

Agreeing with the punishment but refusing to intervene in the matter, the Bench said, “We agree that there should be a deterrent. In our society, people do not understand unless there is a deterrent. [However] we cannot go and legislate on this issue. You have become so populist that you think if we do anything, people won’t vote for us. Policies are being made in a populist way."

The bench pointed out that the Court cannot be legislating on these issues.

Further referring to freebies being doled out under the Aam Aadmi Party-led Delhi government, the Court went on to say that, "If elections were fought and won or lost on real issues, we would have a different city. It doesn’t work that way. Today they are being fought on what is free."

Justice Sanghi added, "How is it that despite having science and technology and machines and manpower this problem cannot be addressed? Since 2013. there have been orders passed by this Court, yet it is not under control."

The Bench, concluded by directing for its orders to be placed before the Chief Justice as another Bench is dealing with a similar matter.

Cause Title: South Delhi Municipal Corporation vs Government of NCT of Delhi