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National Green Tribunal Act 2010

Updated: Feb 20, 2022

Written by - Naman Soni


Abstract


The National Green Tribunal (NGT) was established by the Indian government in 2010. The National Green Tribunal (NGT) is a "quasi-judicial" organisation that only deals with environmental civil lawsuits. There were two earlier attempts to establish green courts in India before the NGT was formed. The National Environment Tribunal Act (NETA) of 1995 and the National Environment Appellate Authority Act (NEAA) of 1997 were the two acts in question.However, in 2010, the most successful environmental court, the NGT, was established. Since its inception, the NGT has resolved a slew of environmental challenges and received an outpouring of support from all quarters. From October 2010 to December 2013, this study examined NGT judgments through an empirical approach. It examines the impact of NGT as well as conflict hotspots. Coastal Zone management-related conflicts are given special attention in NGT. Although the NGT act and its procedures have numerous flaws, they can be seen as a positive step toward environmental justice in India.


Introduction


Under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, the Tribunal has the same powers as a civil court.The Tribunal will not be constrained by the method outlined in the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, but will instead be guided by natural justice principles.The Tribunal's dedicated environmental jurisdiction will help to speed up environmental justice and lessen the cost of litigation in the higher courts. The Tribunal will hear disputes arising from the enforcement of environmental legislation included in Schedule I of the NGT Act of 2010.


The government has the authority to amend any Act of Parliament in order to achieve environmental protection and natural resource conservation goals.Any order of the Tribunal may be appealed to the Supreme Court.No civil court has jurisdiction to hear an appeal involving an issue that the Tribunal has the authority to decide under its appellate jurisdiction.Any civil court or other body may not grant an injunction against any order made by the Tribunal.


The five places of its sitting are at Delhi, Bhopal, Pune, Kolkata and Chennai.The Tribunal now consists of a chairperson, three expert members, and two judicial members. Expert Members include people with practical expertise and administrative experience in the field of environmental policy and regulation, as well as experts in physical and life sciences, engineering, and law. Since the NGT Act of 2010 requires a minimum of 10 expert members and an equivalent number of judicial members, the Ministry is in the process of filling the remaining vacancies in the Tribunal.


Establishment and Composition of the National Green Tribunal[1]


Section 3 of the National Green Tribunal Act, 2010 deals with the tribunal's establishment, in which the central government establishes the tribunal by notification to exercise jurisdiction, powers, and authority.


Section 4 of the Act deals with the tribunal's composition, which includes


  • A full-time Chairperson and judicial members who are not fewer than 10 and not more than 20 in number, or as determined by Central government announcement.

  • Expert members must be a minimum of ten and a maximum of twenty, or as determined by the Central Government

  • One or two specialised individuals who are familiar with the matter can be invited by the chairperson.

  • The territorial jurisdictions under the site of sitting can be notified by the Central Government.

  • The Central government can adopt rules and regulations for the tribunal after consulting with the chairperson.


The Tribunal's Jurisdiction


Section 14: The tribunal shall have jurisdiction to deal with civil cases involving a substantial question relating to the environment, to settle such disputes, and to issue orders and decisions in such situations.[2]


The tribunal will not consider an application if it is not filed within six months of the date on which the cause of action for such dispense arose. If the tribunal finds that there is adequate cause for the delay, it may allow the application to be filed within a 60-day period.


Section 16 indicates that any party who is dissatisfied with the tribunal's orders or decision may file an appeal with the tribunal within 30 days of the order's issuance. If the aggrieved party is hindered by a specific reason, and the tribunal is satisfied with the reason, the tribunal may allow the application to be filed within a period of time greater than 60 days.[3]


The Tribunal's Powers and Procedure: Section 19


  • The Tribunal is not bound by the Civil Procedure Code of 1908 or the Indian Evidence Act of 1872.


  • The tribunal has the authority to set its own rules.


  • The tribunal has civil court-like powers in trying the case, as stipulated by the CPC, 1908.


  • Any person may be summoned and compelled to appear, and he may be examined under oath.


  • Receiving evidence on affidavits


  • Issuing commissions for the examination of witnesses or documents


  • Dismissing an application for default or resolving it ex parte


  • Setting aside any order dismissing an application for default or any order made by it ex parte.


  • On any application or appeal filed under this Act, make an interim order (including issuing an injunction or stay) after giving the parties involved an opportunity to be heard.


Section 20 specifies that the tribunal must consider sustainable development principles, the precautionary principle, and the polluter pays principle when making any order, judgement, or award.[4]


NGT's Strengths


Over the years, the NGT has established itself as a key actor in environmental control, issuing harsh directives on topics like as pollution, deforestation, and waste management.By establishing an alternative dispute resolution process, the NGT provides a route for the growth of

environmental law,reducing the burden of litigation in higher courts on environmental issues. NGT is a less formal, less costly, and speedier means of settling environmental disputes, and it is critical in reducing environmentally harmful activities because the Chairperson and members are not available for reappointment, they are more likely to make decisions on their own, without submitting to outside pressure.


Challenges[5]


  • The NGT does not have jurisdiction over two significant acts: the Wildlife (Protection) Act of 1972 and the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act of 2006. This limits the NGT's authority and, at times, makes it difficult for it to operate, as the critical issue of forest rights is inextricably tied to the environment.


  • The NGT rulings are being challenged in several High Courts under Article 226 (authority of High Courts to issue certain writs), with many arguing a High Court's primacy over the NGT, saying that "the High Court is a constitutional body, whereas the NGT is a statutory body."


  • One of the Act's flaws is the lack of clarity on the kind of judgments that can be challenged despite the fact that the NGT's decisions can be appealed to the Supreme Court.


  • Under the NGT Act, the tribunal's decisions have been criticised and challenged for their impact on economic growth and development. The tribunal has also been chastised for its lack of a formula-based mechanism for determining compensation.


  • The stakeholders and the government do not completely comply with the NGT's judgments. Its judgments are occasionally cited as being impractical to implement within a certain time frame.


  • Due to a shortage of personnel and financial resources, many cases are still pending, undermining the NGT's stated goal of resolving appeals within six months.


Landmark judgements


  • POSCO, a steelmaker, signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Odisha government in 2012 to establish a steel plant.


  • The NGT temporarily halted the order, which was seen as a bold move in favour of local communities and forests.


  • In the 2012 Almitra H. Patel vs. Union of India case, the National Green Tribunal ruled that open burning of trash on lands, including landfills, is prohibited-widely recognised as India's single most important landmark case on solid waste management.[6]


  • The Alaknanda Hydro Power Co. Ltd. was compelled to compensate the petitioner in the Uttarakhand floods case in 2013 - the NGT expressly relied on the principle of "polluter pays" in this instance.


  • The National Green Tribunal (NGT) ruled in 2015 that all diesel cars older than ten years will be prohibited from operating in Delhi-NCR.


  • The NGT panel issued a penalty of Rs. 5 crore in 2017 after the Art of Living Festival on the Yamuna Food Plain was found to be in violation of environmental regulations.[7]


  • In 2017, the NGT ordered an interim ban in Delhi on plastic bags with a thickness of less than 50 microns because “they were causing animal fatalities, blocking drains, and hurting the environment.”


NGT’s Stand on Buxwaha Forest[8]


In its ruling, the environmental watchdog directed the Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (PCCF) to ensure that no trees are cut. It also directed the formation of an expert group under the Forest Conservation Act's requirements.


The Centre, the state government, the forest administration, and the private mining business have all been given four weeks to respond to the tribunal's notices. The petitioners were also ordered to turn over all pertinent papers and copies of the petition to the respondents. The date for the hearing has been set for August 27.


The NGT panel had reserved the order after the hearing on June 30 and issued it on Thursday. On the verdict, Advocate Pushprag stated that the NGT has sent notices to all respondents and has also told the forest department that no tree shall be cut down until all clearances are obtained, which is a big victory for environmentalists.


Conclusion


The National Green Tribunal is a tremendous concept in a world where there are numerous environmental-related disputes that have arisen in every sector of society, all of which must be addressed and resolved for the environment's long-term sustainability. As a result, the tribunal plays an important role in environmental protection. The tribunal must be checked on a regular basis to ensure that it is functioning properly on its objective of conservation of environment.

[1] National Green Tribunal Act 2010, available at: https://legislative.gov.in/sites/default/files/A2010-19_0.pdf (Visited on August 5, 2021). [2] National Green Tribunal Act 2010 (Act 19 of 2010). [3] National Green Tribunal Act 2010, (Act 19 of 2010). [4] National Green Tribunal Act 2010, 2010 (Act 19 of 2010). [5] National Green Tribunal Act 2010, available at:https://www.lkouniv.ac.in/site/writereaddata/siteContent/202004032250572537varun_National_Green_Tribunal_Act_2010.pdf (Visited on August 05, 2021). [6]Almitra H. Patel v. Union of India (1998) 2 SCC 416. [7]National Green Tribunal Holds Art of Living Responsible for Damage to Yamuna Floodplains, available at:https://thewire.in/environment/ngt-yamuna-art-of-living (Visited on August 05, 2021). [8]NGT Stays Felling of Trees in MP's Buxwaha Forest Amid Public Uproar, available at:https://www.news18.com/news/india/ngt-stays-felling-of-trees-in-mps-buxwaha-forest-amid-public-uproar-3916556.html (Visited on August 5, 2021).

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