Thursday, May 23, 2013
Topic: National Green Tribunal : By Jaimin Shah
Q. National Green Tribunal?
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has been established under the NGT Act, 2010 on 18th October, 2010 is headed by Chairperson L.S. Panta, a Retired Supreme Court Judge.
The Tribunal has been established for the effective and expeditious disposal of cases relating to environmental protection and conservation of forests and other natural resources including enforcement of any legal right relating to environment and giving relief and compensation for damages to persons and property and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.
The Law Commission in its 186th Report recommended for setting up of environmental courts in each State or for a group of States for exercising all powers of a civil court in its original jurisdiction and with appellate judicial powers against orders passed by the concerned authorities under the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974, the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981, the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, the Public Liability Insurance Act, 1991.
The Law Commission’s Report was considered in the Ministry. In view of the growing environmental challenges, it was decided to set up a green tribunal as a specialized body equipped with the necessary expertise to handle environmental disputes involving multi-disciplinary issues.
Q. What are the highlights of National Green Tribunal Act, 2010?
The Tribunal has the same powers as are vested in a civil court under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908.
The Tribunal shall not be bound by the procedure laid down under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, but shall be guided by principles of natural justice.
The Tribunal’s dedicated jurisdiction in environmental matters shall provide speedy environmental justice and help reduce the burden of litigation in the higher Courts.
The Tribunal is mandated to make an endeavor for disposal of applications or appeals finally within 6 months of filing of the same.
Initially, the NGT is proposed to be set up at five places of sittings and will follow circuit procedure for making itself more accessible. The five places of its sitting are at Delhi, Bhopal, Pune, Kolkata and Chennai.
The Tribunal has the original jurisdiction over all civil cases where a substantial question relating to environment, including enforcement of any legal right relating to environment is involved.
The Tribunal shall hear disputes arising out of the implementation of environmental laws mentioned in Schedule I of the NGT Act, 2010.
The Government is empowered to add any Act of Parliament having regard to objectives of environmental protection and conservation of natural resources.
The Tribunal is competent to provide relief over and above as is admissible under the Public Liability Insurance Act, 1991. In order to ensure access to justice, pollution control boards and local authorities have also been empowered under the NGT Act to file an application or appeal before the Tribunal on behalf of the affected person.
Appeal against any order of the Tribunal shall lie to the Supreme Court.
No civil court shall have jurisdiction to entertain any appeal in respect of any matter which the Tribunal is empowered to determine under its appellate jurisdiction.
No injunction shall be granted by any civil court or other authority in respect of any order passed by the Tribunal.
At present, the Tribunal consists of Chairperson and 3 Expert Members and 2 Judicial Members. The Expert Members are experts in physical and life sciences, engineering and law including persons having practical knowledge and administrative experience in the field of environmental policy and regulation. The Ministry is in the process of filling up of the remaining vacancies of Members in the Tribunal since NGT Act, 2010 provides for a minimum of 10 Expert Members and equal number of Judicial Members.