Significance of the National Green Tribunal to Environment.
The National Green Tribunal was established on 18 October 2010 under the National Green Tribunal Act, 2010. With the establishment of the NGT, India became the third (and first developing) country in the world to set up a Specialized Environmental Tribunal. Prior to this, such a body was established only in Australia and New Zealand. The main objective of the establishment of the NGT is to expedite the disposal of environmental issues, thereby reducing the burden of litigations in the country's courts. The NGT is headquartered in Delhi, while the other four regional offices are located in Bhopal, Pune, Kolkata, and Chennai. According to the National Green Tribunal Act, it is mandatory for the NGT to settle the environmental issues that come to it within 6 months. The NGT consists of the Chairman, the Judicial Member, and the Specialist Member, who has a term of 5 years, and no member can be appointed to the post again. The Chairman is appointed by the Central Government in consultation with the Chief Justice of India. A selection committee is formed by the central government to appoint judicial and expert members. It is necessary that the Tribunal has at least 10 and a maximum of 20 full-time judicial members and expert members.
The jurisdiction of the Tribunal is very wide and it can hear all cases involving the environment directly or indirectly. It also includes enforcing legal rights related to the environment.
NGT, being a statutory body, has appellate jurisdiction under which it can conduct hearings. NGT is not obliged to follow the judicial procedure outlined in the Code of Civil Procedure 1908. While making any order/decision/award, it is necessary that the NGT implements the principles of Sustainable Development, Precautionary and Polluter Pays, etc. on it.
Tribunal as per order can provide compensation to victims of environmental pollution or any other environmental damage. It may restore or rebuild damaged properties. The order/judgment/award given by the NGT is to be executed as a court order.
The NGT Act also provides for penalties for non-compliance of rules:
Imprisonment for a fixed term which can be extended for a maximum period of 3 years.
A fixed pecuniary penalty can be increased to Rs 10 crore.
Both imprisonment and economic punishment.
An appeal can be filed within 90 days in the Supreme Court against the order/decision/award given by the NGT.
NGT can hear civil cases under 7 laws related to the environment:
1. The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974
2. Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Cess Act, 1977
3. Forests (Protection) Act, 1980
4. The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981
5. Environment (Protection) Act, 1986
6. Environment (Protection) Act, 1986
7. Biodiversity Act, 2002
Any decision taken by the government under the above laws can be challenged before the NGT.
Over the years, the NGT has played an important role in the field of environment and has passed strict orders ranging from deforestation in the forests to waste management, etc.
NGT has given a new direction by establishing an alternative Dispute Resolution Mechanism for justice in the field of environment. This has reduced the burden of environmental matters in the High Courts. NGT is an informal, economical, and fast-track mechanism to address environmental issues.
It plays an important role in preventing activities that harm the environment.
Two important Acts [Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 (Wildlife Protection Act, 1972) and Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers Act, 2006 (Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers Act, 2006)] were excluded from the jurisdiction of NGT, But this sometimes affects the functioning of NGT, as many environmental issues are subject to these Acts.
Several decisions of the NGT have been challenged in the High Court under Section 226, stating that the High Court is a constitutional body, while the Tribunal is a statutory body. This is the biggest drawback of the Act that it does not clearly define which lawsuits can be challenged before the court and which are not. NGT decisions are criticized from time to time due to their impact on economic growth and development. The Tribunal is also subject to criticism for having no clear method of determining compensation. It is mandatory for NGT that any lawsuit under it should be settled within 6 months, but NGT is unable to do so due to a lack of human and financial resources.
The judicial system of NGT is also greatly affected by the limited number of regional benches.
This Article Does Not Intend To Hurt The Sentiments Of Any Individual Community, Sect, Or Religion Etcetera. This Article Is Based Purely On The Authors Personal Views And Opinions In The Exercise Of The Fundamental Right Guaranteed Under Article 19(1)(A) And Other Related Laws Being Force In India, For The Time Being.
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