The Supreme Court on Friday clarified that it never asked the Delhi government to shut schools, during the hearing of a case regarding severe air pollution in the capital, rather only asked for reasons behind the change in their stand on reopening schools.
The court said it had only asked why schools were open while adults had been given the option of working from home.
Chief Justice NV Ramana, heading the three-judge bench in this matter, appeared upset at some newspaper reports on yesterday's hearings that said the court had pressed for the closure of schools.
A bench headed by Chief Justice N.V. Ramana and comprising Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and Surya Kant said, "Do not know whether it is intentional or not. Some sections in the media tried to project, we are villains... we want closure of schools. You (Delhi govt) had said we were closing schools&ntroducing work from home, but see today newspapers."
Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi appearing for Delhi government complained to Supreme Court that one newspaper has conveyed in particular that yesterday's court hearing was aggressive combat and as if the court was threatening to take over the administrative duty.
The bench told senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, representing the Delhi government, that the government told the court that it was closing schools and introducing work from home. "And, see today's newspapers," added the bench.
Singhvi said one newspaper suggested "your lordships wanted to take over the administration". The bench replied that it never used that expression and the matter was not reported correctly.
The Chief Justice told Singhvi, "You've right and freedom to condemn...We can't do that. Where did we say we were interested in taking over administration?"
The bench pointed out at the freedom of press. Singhvi replied that court reporting is different from political reporting and there should be some responsibility.
The Chief Justice replied: "After video hearing, there's no control. Who's reporting what, you don't know..."
"You (Delhi government) can condemn all of this but where do we go? Where did we say that we will take up an administrative role... We cannot interfere with the freedom of speech and expression and a political party can hold a press conference but we cannot do so," the bench said.
The apex court, on Thursday, said nothing was happening on ground to control the deteriorating air quality in Delhi-NCR and directed the Centre and Delhi government to come out with suggestions to control the pollution within 24 hours.
It was hearing a plea filed by environmental activist Aditya Dubey and law student Aman Banka, who sought directions to provide stubble-removing machines to small and marginal farmers for free.
(With inputs from Agencies)
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