The Supreme Court on Thursday said it cannot be swayed by emotions or public protests in directing closure of polluting industries but have to go strictly by law in deciding demands for closing down Sterlite Industries in Tamil Nadu's Tuticorin district.
A bench of justices A K Patnaik and H L Gokhale wondered whether courts can intervene and direct closure even after the authorities like the pollution control board had granted the clearance.
"When a clearance has been given to an industry by the authorities, can the court go beyond the scope of clearance to direct closure of the company?
"We are not concerned with emotions. We can't decide on emotions. We don't go by emotions or public protests. We have to decide only on the basis of law," the bench told MDMK leader Vaiko Gopalswamy and others seeking closure of the
Sterlite Industries, a subsidiary of UK-based Vedanta Group, had moved the apex court against the order of the high court which had on September 28, 2010, ordered shutting down of the smelting plant for reportedly failing to comply with
The SC bench made the observations after Vaiko recalled the huge public protests over the functioning of the industry and claimed its continuance would adversely affect human and cattle population.
The apex court said issues relating to closure of industries for non-conformity to environmental and other norms has to be decided on the basis of law, particularly after a plant has commenced its operations.
"Can we reverse the process? Such questions have to be determined on the basis of law. Otherwise, it will depend on the whims and fancies of the judge.
"Show us one provision of the Constitution or statute that courts can direct closure of an industry even after getting clearance," the bench told Vaiko while posting the matter for further hearing to Tuesday next.
At the last hearing, the Central Pollution Control Board 9CPCB) and Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) had submitted to the bench a joint investigation report on the emission control and effluent treatment measures undertaken by Sterlite Industries Ltd's copper plant at Tuticorin.
The report had stated that the company had fulfilled all the norms and measures suggested.
The apex court had on October 1, 2010, in an interim direction, stayed the operation of the Madras High Court order directing the closure of the industry.
The TNPCB had earlier told the court that it had directed the company to comply