The Supreme Court on Friday refused to entertain a plea seeking a direction to stay the Delhi Half Marathon until the pollution in the National Capital dips to a level safe for the runners.
“There are people running in Lodhi Gardens and Nehru Park. They know what is at stake. How can the court tell people not to run. Everybody has a fundamental right to run,” Chief Justice of India T.S. Thakur said.
Advocate Madhavi Goradia Divan said the particulate matter in the air was 6.3 mg and contained arsenic and carcinogenic elements. Running would do more harm than good.
“There is no adequate awareness. We are not against the marathon, we are only concerned about the participants,” Ms. Diwan said. The annual marathon is to take place on November 20.
“But there are people walking. Somebody may come tomorrow and ask for a direction to tell people to stop walking. People know what they are doing. Courts cannot interfere in everything,” Chief Justice Thakur, sitting along with Justice Anil R. Dave, remarked. The apex court, which banned diesel vehicles and imposed environmental cess, is currently monitoring the alarming air pollution in the city.
It had recently pulled up the Central Pollution Control Board Chief for inaction, asking him whether he was waiting for people to die before choosing to act.
The court has asked the Centre to draw a detailed blueprint on what it planned to do to curb pollution and grade levels to take precautionary measures.
“We will do whatever is required within legal parameters … but we cannot ask people to stop running,” the CJI said.