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Balance of power

LiveMint logoLiveMint 02-10-2017 Livemint

With winter approaching, pollution in the national capital region is set to become an issue again. Take Gurugram: on Sunday, it was the country’s most polluted city. The administration is now considering implementing the odd-even scheme as part of a graded response action plan (GRAP).

Pollution is a perennially contentious issue in India. But there is another interesting aspect here. GRAP was formulated at the Supreme Court’s direction—and the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority which is to implement it was constituted likewise. The Supreme Court, in fact, has taken the lead in combating pollution, directing government action.

Directing governance in this manner is odd, surely. But it seems to be widely accepted. There is a reason for this. Legal scholar Cass Sunstein has noted that the judiciary tends to take on a more activist role in the absence of strong, effective governance institutions—even to the detriment of the constitutional balance of power. Mark it down as another negative consequence of India’s weak state capacity and institutions.

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