In what could discomfit the National Green Tribunal (NGT), the Supreme Court has put its scanner on many instances of NGT passing mechanical and pre-drafted orders. SC has said it would soon take up this issue and pass corrective orders.
- In May 2022, NGT imposed a penalty of Rs 40 crore on a Ghaziabad-based builder for carrying out construction purportedly without requisite environmental clearances.
- Terming this penalty as arbitrary, an appeal was filed in SC against this order.
- It was alleged that the NGT blindly relied on the report of the joint committee, without giving an opportunity to the builder to rebut the finding.
- It went ahead with imposing an arbitrary penalty in breach of the apex court’s norms on acceptance of reports of such committees by the tribunal.
About National Green Tribunal –
- It is a specialised body set up under the National Green Tribunal Act (2010) for effective and expeditious disposal of cases relating to environmental protection and conservation of forests and other natural resources.
- The Tribunal comprises of the Chairperson, the Judicial Members and Expert Members. They shall hold office for term of five years and are not eligible for reappointment.
- The Chairperson is appointed by the Central Government in consultation with Chief Justice of India (CJI).
- The Tribunal has jurisdiction over all civil cases involving substantial question relating to environment (including enforcement of any legal right relating to environment).
- The Tribunal is not bound by the procedure laid down under the Code of Civil Procedure 1908, but shall be guided by principles of ‘natural justice’.
- The NGT deals with civil cases under the seven laws related to the environment, these include – The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974; The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Cess Act, 1977; The Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980; The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981; The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986; The Public Liability Insurance Act, 1991 and; The Biological Diversity Act, 2002.
- The NGT has not been vested with powers to hear any matter relating to the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, the Indian Forest Act, 1927 and various laws enacted by States relating to forests, tree preservation etc.
- India became the third country in the world to set up a specialised environmental tribunal, only after Australia and New Zealand.