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 recognised the inadequacies of the existing appellate authorities constituted under various environmental laws and reviewed their position with a view to bring uniformity in their constitution and the scope of their jurisdiction.
The Law Commission undertook the study pursuant to the observations of the Supreme Court regarding the need for constitution of environmental courts. The Law Commission, in its said 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.
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 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.
Consequent to enforcement of the National Green Tribunal Act, 2010, the National Environment Tribunal Act, 1995 and the National Environment Appellate Authority Act, 1997 have been repealed. The cases pending before the National Environment Appellate Authority at the time of establishment of the National Green Tribunal have been transferred to the National Green Tribunal.
The five places of its sitting are at Delhi, Bhopal, Pune, Kolkata and Chennai.
Delhi has already been specified as ordinary place of sitting of NGT vide Government of India notification dated 5.5.2011.
The Tribunal at Delhi has already commenced its hearings from 4th July, 2011.
The applicants can file applications/petitions before the Tribunal at Delhi till other benches of the Tribunal become functional.
The infrastructure at the 5 places of sitting of the Tribunal is being set up for making it fully functional.
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.
(PIB Features)/ (photo: INDIACSR)
*Inputs from the Ministry of Environment & Forests