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Trending: Call for Papers Volume 3 | Issue 2: International Journal of Advanced Legal Research [ISSN: 2582-7340]

Powers And Functions Of The National Green Tribunal Act, 2010: An Analysis

INTRODUCTION: – 

The Supreme Court of India in its series of judgment highlighted the need of setting up of special environmental courts, the first one being in MC Mehta v. Union of India,[i] (Oleum Gas Leak case), and by the Law Commission of India in its 186th report in 2003. Finally it got established on 18th October, 2010 under the National green tribunal Act, 2010 as Article 21 of the Constitution ensures Right to healthy and clean environment to every citizen as Right to life.

To give effect of aforesaid declaration and recommendations and to provide for a separate special court for effective and expeditious disposal of cases relating to environment, relief, compensation, damages to the person or property, the parliament enacted the NGT Act, 2010. This Act has repealed the National Environment Tribunal Act, 1995 and the National Environment Appellate Authority Act, 1997 and saving the all pending cases before the National environmental appellate authority. 

NEED FOR THE ESTABLISHMENT OF NATIONAL GREEN TRIBUNAL: –

  1. To settle disputes where a substantial question relating to environment is involved.
  2. To provide early and efficacious disposal of cases and also play both purpose: litigant satisfaction and sustainable development with the due protection of environment.
  3. To provide affordable, accessible, quick and speedy justice in case relating to environment conservation and protection at the grass root level.
  4. To provide compensation, damages, fine, relief to the person and property and restoration of ecology accordance with the polluter pay principle, precautionary principle and environmental doctrines. 
  5. Its aim to establish to reduce the burden and pressure on the courts.
  6. To provide for the conservation of forests and other natural resources, including enforcement of any legal right relating to environment. 

COMPOSITION FO TRIBUNAL: –

The Composition[ii] of the tribunal is as follows-
A full-time Chairperson;
Judicial members- At least 10 members and not more than 20 members as notified by the Central Government from time to time;
Expert members – At least 10 members and not more than 20 members as notified by the Central Government from time to time.

APPOINTMENT OF OFFICIALS:-

The Chairperson, Judicial Members and Expert Members of the Tribunal shall be appointed by the Central Government.[iii]  The Chairperson is appointed by the Central Government after consulting with the Chief Justice of India.

STRUCTURE OF THE NATIONAL GREEN TRIBUNAL:-

The central government has specified the ordinary places of NGT for its sitting-

Sr. No.

ZONE

PLACE OF SITTING

1

Northern

Delhi (principal branch)

2

Western

Pune

3

Central

Bhopal

4

Southern

Chennai

5

Eastern

Kolkata

JURISDICTION:-

Section 14[iv] of this Act empowers the tribunal to have the jurisdiction over all the civil cases where-

  1.  A substantial question relating to environment.
  2.  Question arises out of the implementation of the enactments specified in SCHEDULE 1 of the Act.

No application for the adjudication of the matter should be brought after the expiration o period of 6 months from the date of cause of Action, unless the applicant proves that he was prevented by sufficient cause from filing and extra 60 days has been given.[v]

APPEAL TO THE SUPREME COURT:-

An appeal can be filed on the ground given under Sec100[vi] C.P.C. within 90 days from the date of communication of the decision, awards or order of the tribunal to the aggrieved party except when the appellant satisfy the court that he was prevented by sufficient cause from preferring the appeal, only then extension is granted.[vii]

PENALTY FOR FAILURES TO COMPLY WITH DECISION OF THE TRIBUNAL:-

Section 26[viii] of the act provides for the punishment for those who fails to comply with the decision of the tribunal: –
i) With imprisonment for a term which may extend to 3 years.
ii) With fine which may extend to Rs.10 crores.
iii) Or with both.

WORKING OF THE NGT: LANDMARK JUDGMENTS:-

The NGT has shown for serious concern for providing wrong information in the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) reports, as reiterated in N. Chellamuthu v. The district Collector,[ix] here the NGT set aside the Environmental clearance granted to municipal solid waste processing plant of Chennai because of the wrong information provided in the EIA Reports.

  • In 2015, the NGT ordered that all diesel vehicles over 10 years old will not be permitted to ply in Delhi-NCR.
  • In case of Ranjana Jetley v. Union of India[x], it was held that while applying the concept of sustainable development, one has to keep in mind the “Principle of proportionality” and strike balance between development and environment. 
  • In 2017, the Art of Living Festival on Yamuna Food Plain was declared violating the environmental norms, the NGT panel imposed a penalty of Rs. 5 Crore. 
  • The NGT, in 2017, imposed an interim ban on plastic bags of less than 50-micron thickness in Delhi because “they were causing animal deaths, clogging sewers and harming the environment”.[xi]

CRITICAL ANALYSIS

  • The provision regarding the composition provides for minimum 10 judicial and expert members but only 4 expert members have been appointed till date.
  • The number of environmental cases has been on the rise but due to lack of benches and infrastructure i.e. only 5 benches all over India, it leads improper reach as at last it should be in each district but it’s not even established in every state. 
  • There can be a lot of different interpretation regarding ‘substantial question’ as jurisdiction. 
  • The bill did not give any power to the tribunal to deal with some laws related to the environment For Example -The Wildlife protection Act, 1972. 
  • The method of selecting members of the tribunal was not specified in the bill. NGT ACT allows the appointment of bureaucrats in the tribunal which leads to some kinds of biasness because the official being the servant of the government would not give decision against the government.[xii]

CONCLUSION

NGT has done well so far however numerous enhancements are as yet needed to make available, rapid and powerful resolution of ecological disputes a down to earth reality. The Central and State government should work as a team with NGT to protect the environment with faster usage of the NGT orders to be executed. 

REFERENCES

[i] AIR 1987 SC 965.
[ii] Section 4, National Green Tribunal Act, 2010.
[iii] Section 5, National Green Tribunal Act, 2010.
[iv] Section 14, National Green Tribunal Act, 2010.
[v] National Green Tribunal (NGT), https://www.drishtiias.com/important-institutions/drishti-specials-important-institutions-national-institutions/national-green-tribunal-ngt (last visited 10th October, 2020).
[vi] Section 100, Code of Civil Procedure, 1908.
[vii] Powers and Functions of National Green Tribunal,
https://blog.ipleaders.in/powers-functions-national-green-tribunal/ (last visited 9th October, 2020).
[viii] Section 26, National Green Tribunal Act, 2010.
[ix] Original Application No. 20/2011 (Principal Bench, New Delhi).
[x] Ranjana Jetley v. Union of India, Original Application No. 120/ 2013 (Principal Bench, New Delhi).
[xi] National Green Tribunal- History, Features and Challenges https://www.legalbites.in/national-green-tribunal/https://www.legalbites.in/national-green-tribunal/ (last visited 10th October, 2020).
[xii] The national green tribunal in Indian perspective, https://medcraveonline.com/FRCIJ/the-national-green-tribunal-in-indian-perspective.html#:~:text=Salient%20features%20of%20NGT%20act%202010&text=Accident%2C%20environment%2C%20expert%20members%2C,substantial%20question%20relating%20to%20environment.&text=The%20Central%20government%20shall%20have,tribunal%20according%20to%20this%20Act. (last visited 10th October 2020).
Author: Riya, Army Institute of Law, Mohali.

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